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Volleyball comes back after opening conference play on the road

The Miners split their first twp games of conference by defeating Lousiana Tech and falling to Tulane, UTEP will come back home Oct. 4 to face the Florida Atlantic Owls at Memorial Gym.

The UTEP volleyball team closed their non-conference schedule with a 5-5 record before traveling to Louisiana to open their Conference USA slate.

UTEP debuted in conference play with a 3-1 win over Louisiana Tech on Sep. 27, but fell two days later at Tulane 3-0. The Miners will now return home for homecoming week.

“We start over right now at 0-0, the preseason is over now,” said head coach Holly Watts “We have the conference season to focus on now.”

Competing in several invitational tournaments during the offseason, the Miners also faced several highly ranked teams such as San Diego, Texas, Hawaii and Oral Roberts, where they fell to all four.

Now, returning home, the Miners hold a 6-6 overall record and remain 4-1 at home.

“We played some tough opponents and did well against them,” Watts said. “The quality of teams we face in the non-conference, it’s really going to help us have a good run in our league.”

The Miners continue to receive a lot of help from seniors Malia Patterson and Xitali Herrera, who have both been key contributors for the Miners this season.

Recently competing in the UTEP/NMSU Invitational Tournament, the Miners looked good early, defeating both South Dakota State and Hampton University (3-0) to begin conference play.

Herrera led the Miners with 29 kills, 19 digs and 12 blocks in the victory over South Dakota State (3-0) and Hampton University (3-1)

Senior middle blocker Herrera, who argues the Miners have benefited from their preseason struggles, said she is looking forward to going into the conference season.

“Coach Watts has done a great job in keeping us all on track and focused,” Herrera said. “Preseason helped us to gain confidence in ourselves. Playing those teams made us realize we have to fight every game, but also made us better. All of us know now we need to be working hard going into conference play.”

Watts says now it is time to re-focus and prepare for what is to come.

“Every area of the game, we can do better,” Watts said. “I think our intensity and competitiveness is good, but we can always work on executing those skills better.“

Now, with a 1-1 record to begin conference, the Miners look forward to hosting Florida Atlantic on Oct. 4 and Florida International on Oct. 6.

Ellisia Shafer may be reached at [email protected].

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Volleyball comes back after opening conference play on the road