Photo by Scott Larson – Portland State
PORTLAND, Or. – The UTEP volleyball team closed out the Portland State Tournament with a win over host Portland State, 3-1, (28-26, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20) Saturday.
The effort helped the Miners equal the best record (8-1) through nine matches in school history.
UTEP’s Kristen Fritsche and Ema Uskokovic were named to the All-Tournament team. “We were totally in control of the match in some ways and shapes and forms. Fritsche was great, she set at .500 and put up almost seven assist/set and that’s astronomical. For two matches she was really in control,” head coach Ben Wallis said.
“Uskokovic was great as a freshman outside hitter and stepping into that role that she hadn’t really done that yet. She hit .300 for the weekend.”
Senior outside hitter Paulina Perez Rosas was out with an injury. Perez Rosas currently is second on the team is digs and third in kills.
The Miners had three players hit double-digit kills: Serena Patterson (15), Uskokovic (14) and Kenidy Howard (10). Fritsche led the team with six aces and 31 assists. Alyssa Sianez tallied 19 digs while Patterson recorded 12 for a double-double.
The Miners totaled eight blocks and 11 aces. UTEP hit .297.
“Portland State put up giant numbers in its victory over Grand Canyon last night, and we did a good job of slowing them down today well enough where we just were able to block and dig well enough to get a victory,” Wallis said. “We found ways to win two matches against Portland and Portland State. We learned a lot about ourselves in our loss to Grand Canyon because we realized the stress comes from people not stepping into roles that others have filled for a long time. That’s what we missed by not having Paulina (Perez Rosas) this weekend, but it was good for our team to realize that.”
UTEP set the pace quickly in the first set, taking on an early lead. The set consisted of six ties and two lead changes. After going into five set-points, the Miners came out on top, 28-26.
Portland State kept UTEP on its toes, trailing by just a couple of points for most of the second set. The Miners stayed ahead, and never gave up the lead to win the set, 25-20, and take a 2-0 advantage in the match.
The Orange and Blue gained great momentum going into the third set. With a late lead change, Portland State rallied to take UTEP into two set-point occasions where the Miners fell to the Vikings, 26-24.
With an intense exchange of points and five lead changes, UTEP bounced back in the fourth set. The Miners achieved an amazing 6-0 scoring run with three straight service aces by Fritsche right to close out the set and secure the match, 3-1.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t leave with three wins, but my team and I know what we have to fix,” Wallis said. “My staff’s ready to get them moving in that direction, and we’re going to get right back to work. This upcoming weekend we have no rest for the weary with matches against Texas State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, who are conference champions, and Tarleton State who’s a much-improved team out of the WAC. We’ve got our work cut out for ourselves, but my team’s going to look forward to some rest. It was a stressful weekend for them and we’re looking forward to getting whole and healthy again.”
UTEP will be back in action as it travels to the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Tournament September 17-18.
Live stats will be available as the Miners take on Texas State Friday (Sept. 17) at 9:30 a.m. MT, host Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Friday (Sept. 17) at 5 p.m. MT, and Tarleton State Saturday (Sept. 18) at 9:30 a.m. MT.