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A learning experience in the first year under Watts

UTEP+finished+its+first+season+under+new+head+coach+Holly+Watts+14-14%2C+7-7+in+Conference+USA.
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UTEP finished its first season under new head coach Holly Watts 14-14, 7-7 in Conference USA.

The first season of volleyball under new head coach Holly Watts ended with a 14-14 record for the Miners. The new era of UTEP volleyball finished in the first round of the Conference USA Championships after a ninth-place finish in conference.

Watts came into a program that consisted of players she had not met or even seen play until arriving at UTEP. The personnel changed while the players, for the most part, remained the same.

“It was different. She made us stay more focused throughout the entire season and even though it didn’t end the way we wanted, I think the changes are for the good,” said senior middle blocker Xitlali Herrera.

The Miners rubbed elbows with some of the best teams in the country as they faced San Diego, Hawaii and the defending national champions the Texas Longhorns to start their season.

Watts said that the support has helped the team this season from beginning to end.

“The crowd was always on our side and very supportive,” Watts said. “I felt like we improved as the season went along, as a whole. Our chemistry continued to improve even through our last weekend in Northern California.”

The Miners were 9-4 at home and posted a 3-2 record in neutral sites.

The Miners showed grit when performing against some of the best teams Conference-USA has to offer, they were close to upsetting the No. 3 team in the conference, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, losing in five sets.

“What a rewarding experience and a great team to fight through the challenges. What an incredible home atmosphere we have in Memorial Gym,” Watts said about her first season at UTEP. “We didn’t accomplish all we wanted to as a program yet, but the fight and determination of this team was a pleasure to work with.”

With the offseason comes the departure of the seniors on the squad. The Miners will lose five players before next season begins. Watts said she is always recruiting and has players already on their way to UTEP.

“We have three athletic young ladies on their way into our program so far,” Watts said. “We are planning to increase our athleticism, as well as our overall ball control and termination ability. We are always recruiting.”

One of the players coach Watts will have to replace is Herrera. She jumped and spiked for 415 kills this season–a team high. She spoke about her experience under coach Watts.

“I’ve learned to stay focused for three months on the same goal. I think she’s going to make this program grow. She knows what it takes to go from good to great,” Herrera said.

Now coach Watts gets to have an entire offseason to get her team in the correct mindset, along with getting her squad to the highest athletic standard as possible.

“We are going to work on quickness, speed and strength. These things will help us to prepare for the fall season, athletically,” Watts said. “On the court, we are going to work to improve our overall ball control and power.”

Watts also said that with the effort the team puts in every day, the program will grow without a doubt.

“If the team will continue to put forth the effort to get better, together, every day, this team and this program will get better. We have the resources needed to accomplish greatness,” Watts said.

Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Luis Barrio
Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter
Luis Barrio is a staff reporter specializing in Sports. He is also the co-host of the Prospector News Weekly, a weekly broadcast that covers all of the top stories at UTEP. He is a Senior graduating in December 2014. Luis is a product of El Paso, TX. He enjoys being outdoors and being physically active. His family comes before anything else. He is a big sports enthusiast and a fan of good movies. Luis spent the summer of 2013 interning for ABC-7 KVIA. Upon graduation Luis aspires to work for CBS as a sports broadcaster. “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever a having felt sorry for itself.” D.H. Lawrence
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A learning experience in the first year under Watts