UTEP to take on Southern Miss in C-USA Tournament

"I know we have more games, but it was still an emotional day... We are all definetely looking forward to the tournament now." - Malia Patterson, senior setter

UTEP+defeated+East+Carolina+in+three+straight+sets+on+Nov.+17%2C+Xitlali+Herrera+is+one+of+the+seniors+on+the+team.

Veronica Enriquez / The Prospector

UTEP defeated East Carolina in three straight sets on Nov. 17, Xitlali Herrera is one of the seniors on the team.

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

It was a whirl of emotions in Memorial Gym when the UTEP Volleyball team swept the East Carolina Pirates 3-0 (30-28, 25-20, 25-23) in their season finale along with celebrating its five seniors in their final regular season as Miners. The team is now headed to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to take on the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Nov. 21 as part of the Conference USA Tournament.

“It was an emotional day,” senior Malia Patterson said. “I know we have more games, but it was still an emotional day and a good day. We are all definitely looking forward to the tournament now.”

The win on Nov. 17 was a way to gain momentum, but now the Miners are geared towards winning the conference tournament that begins on Nov. 21

UTEP finished the regular season above .500 at 14-13. They are the No. 9 seed in the tournament. The winner of the game between Southern Mississippi and UTEP will play No. 1 seed, the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners on Nov. 18.

Head coach Holly Watts said that the team is capable of beating the top teams in Conference USA. The Miners finished their regular season facing Tulsa and East Carolina at Memorial Gym.

UTEP went up two games to zero before the Golden Hurricanes stormed back and took three straight games in a bitter defeat for the Miners.

“With our conference it’s one of those things where any team can beat any team. It gives us hope, especially with a team that close to No. 1. It gives us confidence. We have a really good shot,” said freshman Lindsey Larson. “We have to be confident in ourselves, our team and be positive.”

“Certainly against Tulsa we knew we had to play well because they are at the top of the conference. We kept playing hard and never gave up. We just didn’t end up on top,” Watts said.

With the tournament just around the corner, Watts talked about what she wants to see from her squad at the Conference USA championship.

“I expect us to fight and compete every rally. We need to give ourselves a chance to do well. We are going to go in with a lot of intensity and fire and play hard,” Watts said.

Despite finishing the season with a 1-4 record in its previous five games, Watts wants to be ready for any team they face in the tournament.

“We’ve already done a game plan for each team. We can find out the tweaks that need to be adjusted when facing these teams,” Watts said. “We’re going to re-look at our game plan and find the breakdown as to what we need to do.”

In the regular season the Miners fell to Southern Mississippi 3-0 (17-25, 20-25, 19-25) in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The team that finished eight in conference, just one spot ahead of the Miners, the winner will face the Texas San Antonio roadrunners on Nov. 22 in the quarterfinals.

The Miners go into the tournament sweeping the Pirates and more importantly, they go in with momentum at a time of the season when momentum can make all the difference going to the conference championships.

Luis Barrio may be reached at th[email protected]