Miners double up on Friday

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Miners double up on Friday

Javier Cortez, Sports Editor

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In day two of the Borderland Invitational the UTEP women’s volleyball team came back to the Don Haskins Center with a bitter taste in their mouth after a five set loss to Denver University on Thursday and this time they did not disappoint.

The Miners won both matches on the day, defeating Brown University in the morning session 3-2 (24-26, 25-15, 25-22, 25-27, 15-11) and Robert Morris University in the night session 3-1 (25-12, 24-26, 25-20, 25-18).

“We had a really bad taste [in our mouth] from last night were we definitely could have beat Denver,” said sophomore outside hitter Coline Coessens. “I think today was a pretty good example of how we can play as a team.”

At the start of the day the Miners were in a dogfight with the Brown Bears. After dropping a close first set 26-24, the Miners came right back with a dominant 25-15 second set to split going into halftime.

After another tough battle in the third set [25-22], the Miners had match point in the fourth set after saving a set point, but they could not convert. Brown took the set 27-25 and the momentum into the fifth and final set.

It was the Miners third consecutive match that went to the fifth set, unlike last night though the Miners found a way to get the win. Junior setter Lindsay Larson came up with a big ace at 11-11 and the Miners went on to take the next three points and the match.

It was a struggle to finish out the Bears, but the execution in the fifth set was what the Miners have been trying to improve all throughout the preseason and this invitational. Senior outside hitter Talia Jones was happy to close the match out today after faltering on Thursday.

“That [fifth set] was exactly what we were looking for yesterday,” Jones said. “We thought that we improved from yesterday and that’s what we’ve been working on. It was really exciting to actually do it and not just talk about it.”

Along with the win was some eye popping stats from the Miners; three players posted career highs in the five set thriller. Lindsay Larson posted 62 assists and 27 digs, junior defensive specialist Sarah Villa registered 35 digs, and Talia Jones notched 24 kills.

In the night session there was no letdown or signs of struggling to recovery from the morning session. The Miners came out swinging against Robert Morris, making easy work of the Colonials with 25-12 thwarting in the first set.

“We just came out firing and ready to play,” Larson said. “People were just warmed up from playing the earlier match. We just came out and took care of business, we didn’t let them go on any runs, and we just kept putting pressure on them.”

In the second set the Miners reoccurring problem emerged—giving away sets. Although the set was close it was the Miners set to win. Knotted at 21-21, Robert Morris reeled off three points after taking a time out and took the set 26-24. Larson attributed the blown set to complacency.

“I don’t know if we got complacent or not,” Larson said. “Maybe just a little bit because we crushed them in the first set. We kind of let them back in the [match].”

After outplaying Robert Morris for two sets and coming out of halftime tied, the Colonials took control of the third and had the Miners on the ropes. But somehow the Miners buckled down on defense, cut the deficit to one point at 17-18 then finished out the set on an 8-2 run.

“It gave us a lot of momentum finishing [the set] off like that,” Larson said. “We were really focused and we knew what we needed to do. Nobody wanted to take it to the fifth set.”

The Miners followed with a strong fourth set to close the match out and secure back-to-back wins for the first time since early September of last year.

“[These wins] should do a lot for our confidence,” said head coach Holly Watts. “It’s nice to be able to not be given anything and still get a win. It’s not like we played two bad teams, they kept the ball alive and we had to work really hard to put the ball down [against both teams].”

The Miners will cap off the Borderland Invitational against the Oklahoma Sooners tomorrow at 12 pm at the Don Haskins Center. If the Miners win tomorrow it will be the first time the team won three straight home games since Sep. 4, 2012.

 

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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