The UTEP volleyball team (13-4, 2-2 Conference USA) will take on Southern Miss (10-10, 2-4 C-USA) in a pair of matches Friday (Oct. 15) at 4 p.m. MT and Saturday (Oct. 16) at 10 a.m. MT.
Hitting with Consistency
UTEP has hit .250 or better 11 times total on the season, including six matches at .301 or above. The opposition has only topped .250 three times in 17 contests on the campaign. Seven Miners are swinging better than .250 on the year. Vittoria Price (.420) leads the team among players with at least 15 kills.
The Miners registered a season-high 14 blocks in the 3-0 win against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 9. UTEP has posted at least 10 blocks in seven matches this season. Alianza Darley (63), Kenidy Howard (50), Price (44), and Ema Uskokovic (38) each have tallied at least 35 total blocks to lead the charge.
In Conference USA, UTEP is ranked in the top three in seven different categories: first in aces per set (1.88, 21st NCAA) and team service aces (120, 24th NCAA), second in hitting percentage (0.264, 26th NCAA), kills per set (13.81, 27th NCAA) and match W-L percentage (0.765, 43rd NCAA) and third in assists per set (12.55, 33rd NCAA) and team kills (884, 56th NCAA).
UTEP has six players ranked in the top 12 in six different categories in the conference: Hande Yetis is third in aces per set (0.42), Kristen Fritsche is seventh in service aces (22), Alyssa Sianez is seventh in total digs (254), Howard is ninth in blocks per set (1.06), Darley is tenth in total blocks (62) and 11th in blocks per set (0.97), and Serena Patterson is 12th in kills per set (3.29).
Scouting Southern Miss
Southern Miss is 10-10 (2-4 C-USA) on the year, recently losing back-to-back matches to North Texas. Nationally, the Golden Eagles are currently ranked ninth in team kills (990) and 10th in team assists (905) and team digs (1,209). The program is led offensively by freshman outside hitter Mia Wesley with 261 kills (3.53 kills/set) and 25 service aces.
Redshirt-junior setter Kenzie Smith is rated first on the team in assists (729, 9.85 assists/set). On the defense, sophomore libero Aliah Giroux paces the squad in digs (305, 4.12 digs/set) while freshman middle hitter Cara Atkinson leads the way in blocks (64, 7 solo/57 assists). In Conference USA, Smith currently ranks first in total assists (729, 73rd NCAA) and third in assists per set (9.85, 8th NCAA) while Wesley comes in second in service aces (25, 72nd NCAA), third in total points (306, 30th NCAA), total attacks (776, 22nd NCAA) and total kills (261, 40th NCAA). Giroux is ranked third in total digs (305, 51st NCAA).
The Series vs. Southern Miss
UTEP is 7-14 against Southern Miss, however, the Miners have won the last three meetings against the Golden Eagles. The first meeting was back in 1995. Under head coach Ben Wallis, the Miners are undefeated (3-0) against the Golden Eagles.