Playing in the renovated Memorial Gym for the first time this season, the UTEP women’s volleyball team lost a closely contested straight-set battle to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 38-36).
The first set saw a relatively sloppy start from the Texas Tech; despite leading early on the Red Raiders committed two services errors in the first 15 points. Each team countered with substantial runs before Texas Tech took the first set.
In the second set, the Miners found themselves trailing early due to sloppy play off the first ball. But the Miners whittled down the Texas Tech lead and cut the deficit to one point at 17-16.
The Red Raiders would respond with an 8-0 run to take the set and a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
“We didn’t have (that intensity) most of the match,” said head coach Holly Watts referring to the Miners play in the first two sets. “(In the locker room) we talked about ways to do that.”
Coming out of the locker room the Miners displayed some of the best fight you will ever see in a volleyball match. Neck and neck for the whole set the Red Raiders took a 24-22 lead and the match seemed all but over.
Over the course of the next 28 points, the Miners would save an astounding nine match points, despite failing to convert six set points. The level of intensity in the set was felt all over Memorial Gym.
Some of the longest rallies of the match were played with the Miners down match point; the UTEP defense was all over the place saving balls.
Statistically it was another tough match for the Miners. The overall hitting percentage for the Miners was .116. Sophomore outside hitter Coline Coessens had a team high 14 kills, junior defensive specialist Sarah Villa led the team in digs with 13, and junior setter Lindsay Larson paced the team with 28 assists.
Middle blocker Maddie Morgan was a bright spot on the day, the freshmen contributed seven kills with a .429 hitting percentage.
Despite the loss, coach Watts believes that the third set alone was good enough to bring back some fans for the Miners upcoming matches.
“The intensity was incredible,” said head coach Holly Watts. “That’s the kind of volleyball that gets people to comeback. Yes we wanted to pull out that set and win more, but I think we hooked a few fans that were here for the first time.”
The Miners will be back in action this Friday as they travel to Peoria, Illinois for the Bradley Invitational.
Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]