Sooners stifle Miners 3-0

Javier Cortez, Sports Editor

In the final day of the Borderland Invitational the UTEP women’s volleyball ran into the brick wall that was the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners defeated the Miners in straight sets 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-14) at the Don Haskins Center.

It was a tall task for the Miners coming into the match; the Sooners finish second in the Big 12 last season and made their second straight NCAA tournament. Nevertheless the Miners came out swinging in the first set and capitalized off the Sooners sloppy start.

The Miners took an early five-point lead thanks to some key digs by junior defensive specialist Sarah Villa and blocks by redshirt freshman middle blocker Kylie Baumgartner. The Sooners eventually cut into the Miners lead and tied the game at 15-15.

Once the Sooners tied the set it was a back-and-forth affair. With the Miners leading 21-20, junior setter Lindsay Larson served a crucial ace to put the Miners up by two, but the Sooners rebutted with a 5-1 run to win the set.

“We just came out ready to go,” Larson said referring to the first set. “We weren’t intimidated by anything. We figured we would have to play really hard to beat this team, so we were really fired up. Everyone was taking really big swings and being really smart with their place method, that was what helped us do good that set.”

After a well contested first set, things got tough for the Miners. The Sooners started to execute on offense much more efficiently; improving their hitting percentage from .164 in the first set to a staggering .400 in the second set.

Despite losing the set the Miners closed the wide gap and lost a respectable 25-17. The third set saw little to no resistance from the Miners. A lack of energy was a big reason in the Miners getting trounced in the third set 25-14.

“I think when we got down on ourselves it was hard to gain any momentum,” freshman middle blocker Maddie Morgan said. “But for the most part [the energy was good].”

It also didn’t help that it was the Miners fourth match in three days.

“Not to give ourselves any excuses but we were pretty tired,” said head coach Holly Watts. “We just have to will ourselves to that next swing, to jump again, and go for that dig one more time.”

Much of the Miners struggles came offensively in the second and third set. Their overall hitting percentage on the day was .070. Larson attributes the lack of success to the strong Oklahoma blocking.

“They had a really strong block,” Larson said. “They started keying [in on] our go to hitters and it was really hard for them to get around the blocking. I think that was the difference.”

The Miners three outside hitters; senior Talia Jones, sophomore Coline Coessens, and sophomore Dalainee Perry combined hitting percentage was .095.

Despite a tough first set the Sooners proved to be in a different class. Once Oklahoma cut out the errors, the Miners were out of sorts defensively.

“I thought we had a lot of fight in the first two sets,” Watts said. “They [Oklahoma] just kind of overpowered us in the second and third set. In the first set we had chances to even win, they were giving us a lot of that. Then when they stopped having as many errors, then we started having them.”

With a very brief brake the Miners will be back in action on Tuesday against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 5:30 pm in the newly renovated Memorial Gym.


Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]