Volleyball improves over the weekend

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Volleyball improves over the weekend

Javier Cortez, Web Editor

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Back in a familiar place for the third time in their last four matches, the UTEP volleyball team put together their most successful homestand to date.

The Miners picked up their first straight set win of the season on Friday, Oct. 7, against Charlotte, thanks to a strong defensive effort. Four Miners recorded double-digit digs and Sarah Villa led the way with 17 as the team totaled a game-high 65.

On Sunday, things did not go as planned for UTEP. The Miners took a relatively routine straight set loss to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The Southern Miss offensive attack was virtually unstoppable for the entirety of the match, finishing the day with a .324 hitting percentage.

On the other side of the net, the Miners struggled to find consistency. Midway through the first and second sets, Southern Miss put together two big runs, stretching the lead, eventually taking the set.

“That’s just something we need to work on,” said setter Lindsay Larson. “We need to be consistent for a longer period of time. We would win a few points than let them back in.”

After a strong win against Charlotte, head coach Holly Watts called Sundays match a step back.

“I feel like our team has taken a lot of steps forward this season, but today felt like a step or two back.,” she said. “We’re going to prepare for Friday and not dwell on this.”

After a rough start to the season, losing six of seven matches by straight sets, the Miners have become more competitive.

Despite being 4-14 on the season, the Miners have somewhat turned a corner. After back-to-back straight set losses in their season home opener, the Miners have won at least one set in seven of their last nine matches.

The straight set loss to Southern Miss is all the more puzzling, but Watts still feels the team is improving.

“We’ve been playing better over longer periods of time,” Watts said. “I think overall as a team we’re getting a lot better through the course of the season.”

With the two-game home stand gone and past, the Miners will prepare for a two-game Texas road trip. On Friday, in Denton, TX, against North Texas and on Sunday in San Antonio, against UTSA.

Friday will be the Miners first match against North Texas this season, while UTSA is another familiar foe.

On Oct. 2, at Memorial Gym, the Roadrunners handed the Miners a tough five-set loss. The Miners rallied from two sets down to force a fifth set, nearly pulling off on the biggest upsets in the Watts coaching era. The top teams in Conference USA, boasting a 12-4 record. UTSA is currently in a three-way tie for third place.

“We’re excited to have another chance,” Larson said. “We were fired up after our (last) game against them. Of course, nobody likes to lose, but we were happy with how we played and competed. It will be nice to have another shot at them.

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