UTEP volleyball prepares to run it back this season

Outside+hitter+Paulina+Perez+Rosas+throws+a+toy+volleyball+out+towards+the+crowd+during+senior+night+Dec.+2%2C+2021.+The+Prospector+File+Photo

Annabella Mireles

Outside hitter Paulina Perez Rosas throws a toy volleyball out towards the crowd during senior night Dec. 2, 2021. The Prospector File Photo

Katrina Villarreal, Contributor

After a historical 2021 season, UTEP volleyball kicks off the fall 2022 season with an exhibition match against Grand Canyon University at noon Aug. 20. The Miners officially start the season off at the Northwestern Invitational in Evanston, Illinois in a double header at 11 a.m. Friday Aug. 26 against Northeastern University and BIG Ten affiliate Northwestern University at 6:30 p.m.

“Obviously playing a BIG Ten team on their home floor with a top 10 recruiting class will be a tough one right out of the gates,” UTEP Volleyball head coach Ben Wallis told UTEP Athletics in a news release.

UTEP is set to host five of its 12 non-conference games and will participate in two more tournaments, the Oral Roberts Tournament, and the Arizona Tournament. The Miners will also take on conference champion Texas A&M – Corpus Christi and Cal State Northridge from the Big West Conference. The Miners will also host rival New Mexico State University in the Battle of I-10 at noon Nov. 23 at Memorial Gym.

In conference play, UTEP will host seven of the 14 Conference USA games this season. Conference play begins Sept. 23 when the Miners take a trip to the East Coast to take on Florida International University at 5 p.m. The first home game for the Miners in conference play will be against LA Tech at 6 p.m. Sept 30 at Memorial Gym.

“Conference USA opens with a nasty road schedule all the way on the East Coast versus the Florida schools and the whole C-USA schedule is going to be a battle of rest, injury prevention, and tactical wits versus a very good conference field this year,” Wallis said in a news release from UTEP Athletics. 

During the offseason Wallis and his assistant coaches added some hard hitters to the 2022 roster. After the 2021 season ended, Wallis announced the addition of setter Mattie Gantt, outside hitter Katherine Neille, outside hitter Marian Ovalle, and middle hitter Kaya Weaver. In May, he announced the addition of outside hitter Sara Pustahija from Serbia to the roster.

Along with some new additions, Wallis announced the addition of former Belmont assistant coach and Samford Alumna Courtney John-son to the coaching staff. While at Belmont, Johnson oversaw the defensive side and helped the Bruins make their first conference tournament appearance since 2017.

“I’m thrilled to add Courtney to our staff,” Wallis told UTEP Athletics. “Courtney’s ideals, character, and grinder mentality are what we’ve been missing here for a little while and we’re excited to get her out on the road recruiting as soon as possible.”

Some players to keep an eye on during the volleyball season include senior defensive specialist/libero Hula Crisostomo, senior outside hitter/middle blocker Alianza Darley, graduate student outside hitter Serena Patterson, and junior defensive specialist Alyssa Sianez 

Crisostomo is looking to make a comeback to the court after a season ending knee injury. Darley ranked second on the team in blocks with 101 and earned All-Conference Second Team honors while Patterson led the Miners in points (427) and kills (367) for the third year in a row along with being the first Miner to earn postseason tournament honors (NIVC All-Tournament Team). Sianez led the Miners in digs with 512, where she finished first in C-USA.

Season tickets for the upcoming volleyball season are now on sale. Season schedule below:  

Northwestern Tournament 

10 a.m., Aug. 26, Friday, Northeastern, Evanston, Ill. 

6:30 p.m., Aug. 26, Friday, Northwestern, Evanston, Ill. 

10 a.m., Aug. 27, Saturday, Pacific, Evanston, Ill. 

Borderland Invitational 

6 p.m., Sept. 1, Thursday, New Mexico, Memorial Gym 

7 p.m., Sept. 2, Friday, Portland State, Memorial Gym 

10:30 a.m., Sept. 3, Saturday, South Dakota, Memorial Gym 

Oral Roberts Tournament 

9:30 a.m., Sept. 9, Friday, Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla. 

2:30 p.m., Sept. 9, Friday, Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Okla. 

12 p.m., Sept 10, Saturday, Abilene Christian, Tulsa, Okla. 

Arizona Tournament 

11:30 a.m., Sept. 16, Friday, CSUN, Tucson, Ariz. 

6:30 p.m., Sept. 16, Friday, Arizona, Tucson, Ariz. 

10 a.m., Sept. 17, Saturday, Texas A&M-CC, Tucson, Ariz. 

7 p.m., Sept. 19, Monday, UTRGV, Memorial Gym 

5 p.m., Sept. 23, Friday, FIU, Miami, Fla. 

10 a.m., Sept. 25, Sunday, Florida Atlantic, Boca Raton, Fla. 

6 p.m., Sept. 30, Friday, LA Tech, Memorial Gym 

12 p.m., Oct. 2, Sunday, North Texas, Memorial Gym 

1 p.m., Oct. 8, Saturday, Rice, Memorial Gym 

5 p.m., Oct. 14, Friday, LA Tech, Ruston, La. 

12 p.m., Oct. 16, Sunday, WKU, Memorial Gym 

6 p.m., Oct. 21, Friday, UTSA, Memorial Gym 

11 a.m., Oct. 23, Sunday, Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 

5 p.m., Oct. 28, Friday, North Texas, Denton, Texas 

12 p.m., Oct. 30, Sunday, Rice, Houston, Texas 

6 p.m., Nov. 4, Friday, Middle Tennessee, Memorial Gym 

5 pm., Nov. 10, Thursday, UTSA, San Antonio, Texas 

11 a.m., Nov. 12, Saturday, UAB, Memorial Gym 

TBA, Nov. 18-21 C-USA Tournament @WKU (Bowling Green) 

12 p.m., Nov. 23, Wednesday, NM State, Memorial Gym  

All information and quotes for UTEP courtesy of UTEP Athletics, utepminers.com.

Katrina Villarreal is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]