Miners defeat Marshall 3-2 in five-set thriller

Jeremy Carranco, Sports Editor

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The UTEP women’s volleyball team concluded their home season on a high note, defeating the Marshall Thundering Herd in the fifth set, 17-15, to claim the 3-2 victory on Wednesday night at Memorial Gym.

Seniors’ Amanda King and Dania Orozco end their home careers with two consecutive victories.

“They (King and Orozco) have really been a blessing to our team,” Watts said. “We appreciate all of their effort and energy, they don’t take any days off and when it’s game day, the energy they have just goes up another level and that’s what you want from your players.”

Orozco led the team in digs with 20 and King led the team in assists with 42 to go along with nine kills for 3.5 points scored in the contest.

“That was a fun game, I love these games with scrappy plays because it brings excitement and provides me with motivation,” King said. “I told myself before this game (last home game), ‘how fun would it be to play in a close game and win’ well that happened and it was really nice, especially for my last time playing here.”

Freshman Macey Austin earned a team high 15 kills and 17.5 points to pace the Miners’ offensive attack. Austin says she is grateful to have someone like King set up the ball so well for her and will miss her presence on the team at the conclusion of the season.

“Amanda and I are constantly talking about where the sets need to be and how we need to adjust to the ball, that chemistry with her on the court is what allowed us to work so successfully together,” she said. “We got one more game left and we are using it to get ready for next season, to build on things and try new things because we can always be getting better.”

In the first set, Marshall (10-18, 5-8 C-USA) looked like they we’re going to run the Miners to the ground, winning handily 25-15. However, UTEP did not go away, winning a close second set 25-22 to refuel the team.

“We were asleep in the first set and we lost it and that’s when we woke up because we all realized ‘hey, we don’t want to lose our last home game, we want to end on a positive note,'” Austin said. “Plus, we wanted to send our seniors out with a win and we did.”

The Miners took the third set easily, 25-18, before the Thundering Herd responded in the fourth, winning 25-20.

In the fifth and final set, no team led by more than two points. The longest run in the set came when the Miners trailed 15-14, that’s when UTEP rattled off three straight points to grab the win on senior night in front of a loud and energized crowd at Memorial Gym.

“Our crowd did a great job tonight, they were alive for us,” Watts said. “They were loud and a big part of that crucial fifth set.”

Marshall was led by Jac’cara Walker who tallied 20 kills in the loss.

The win for the Miners (6-21, 3-11 C-USA) is just their second in 13 games and third in 19.

UTEP will now prep for their 2017 season finale against rival New Mexico (14-13, 6-8 MWC). The Miners met the Lobos earlier this season in the Glory Road Invitational where they fell in straight sets (3-0).