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UTEP volleyball hosts ‘Borderland Invitational’

Joel Molina
Setter Hande Yetis sets up the ball for her teammates during a game against South Dakota.

UTEP volleyball (2-4, 0-0 Conference USA) finishes 0-3 this weekend at the Borderland Invitational. The Miners fall to the University of New Mexico (3-1, 0-0 Mountain West conference) in a five-set match, Portland State University (1-3, 0-0 Big Sky Conference) and the University of South Dakota (5-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley Conference). 

The Miners lost to the Lobos Thursday, Sept. 1, 2-3, in a five-set match; 25-23, 25-17, 18-25, 10-25 and 18-20. UTEP took the first two sets in the match, but the Lobos were not going down without a fight, claiming the next three sets in the match. The Miners had 14 total blocks against the Lobos.  

The Miners had two players hit double-digit kills, freshman outside hitter Torrance Lovesee (11) and junior rightside hitter Marian Ovalle (12). Two UTEP setters reached double-digits in assists, freshman setter Mattie Gantt recorded 20, while junior setter Hande Yetis had 19. Senior defensive specialist/libero Hula Crisostomo recorded 13 digs and freshman outside/rightside hitter Sara Pustahija had seven service aces against the Lobos. 

“We had some timely young decisions to play it soft and not go big and finish the match,” said head coach Ben Wallis in a press release. “UNM is a very solid team, and we knew they were. ” 

The Miners fell short against Portland State University Friday, Sept. 2, 2-3 in another five-set match; 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-22, 11-15. It was a “block party” for the Miners as they were able to out block Portland State 15 to 11, along with recording nine service aces. 

Three Miners set career-highs for UTEP against Portland State, Gantt set a new career-high in assists (21), Lovesee reached three solo blocks and three block assists, and senior middle blocker Vittoria Price recorded 23 attacks and nine blocks. Two Miners reached double-digits in kills, graduate student outside hitter Serena Patterson had 12 and Price finished with 11. It was a big night for Crisostomo who recorded 24 digs and Yetis who had 23 assists. 

“I’m really proud of the fight that we showed,” Wallis said in a press release. “It was a good competitive match against a really good team who I think will win the Big Sky this year. I really do. They’re very veteran and they pressured us. They just came at us, and we didn’t respond very well. We struggled to score, but I got more of our players in there that helped us grind back in the third and fourth.” 

Lastly, UTEP fell to the University of South Dakota Saturday, Sept. 3 in another five-set match, 2-3; 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-17. The Miners recorded 63-55 kills and 17-8 aces, but South Dakota outhit (.279-.215) and out blocked the Miners (12.0-8.0). 

Gantt and Price both recorded career-highs against South Dakota. Gantt had a career-high in assists (27) and Price achieved a career-high in attacks (24). 

The Miners had four players record double-digits in kills, Patterson (14), Price (10), Pustahija (11) and sophomore outside hitter Ema Uskokovic (11). Gantt and Yetis had a combined 48 assists and Crisostomo recorded a team-high in digs with 17, along with Patterson recording 11 for a double-double. 

“I wasn’t disappointed at all in our effort to win, our desire to compete, or our ability to play with and beat great teams,” Wallis said in a press release. “What I’m disappointed in is our ability to find someone on this roster that will decide to close out matches and do the right things out of system when we need to against the best teams that we’ll play this year. That person is here on our roster, I just need one or two of our talented players that score points to make that leap and take the next step in our season.” 

UTEP will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Oral Roberts Tournament Sept. 9-10. The Miners are set to take on Tulsa Friday, Sept. 9 at 12 p.m., Abilene Christian at 3 p.m. and Oral Roberts Saturday, Sept. 10 at 12 p.m. 

All stats for UTEP courtesy of UTEP Athletics, 

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

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About the Contributors
Katrina Villarreal
Katrina Villarreal, Multimedia Editor
Katrina Villarreal is senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in theatre at UTEP. She is going into her second year at The Prospector and is currently the Multimedia Editor. Once she graduates, she plans on becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL or ESPN.  
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Contributor/Photographer
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is a photo contributor and began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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UTEP volleyball hosts ‘Borderland Invitational’