UTEP volleyball breaks losing streak at Oral Roberts Tournament


Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners volleyball team competed in the 2022 Oral Roberts Volleyball Tournament this past weekend where they faced the Tulsa University Golden Hurricanes, the Abilene Christian University Wildcats and the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.  

Coming into this tournament, the Miners have struggled to muster up wins. In their past six matches, UTEP has only won two. Feeding into their three-game-losing streak was their tight performances in the Borderland Invitational where they lost all their matches 2-3. 

All three of UTEP’s competitors this weekend also entered the tournament on a cold streak with each team having only two wins prior to the tournament. It should be safe to argue that UTEP was playing on an evenly matched playing field this weekend. 

Opening the tournament for the Miners was a match against the Hurricanes. UTEP struggled to get out of the gate and ended up losing the match 0-3. Freshman setter Mattie Gantt recorded a career high three service aces against Tulsa. Junior right side hitter Marian Ovalle noted 10 kills as well as one block. 

Later that day, the Miners played the Wildcats. UTEP lost their first set 26-28, but then came out to win the next three sets to find their first win in five matches. Freshman setter Ashlynn Barnes recorded 24 assists and Ovalle scored another 12 kills in this match. The team noted a total of 55 kills to ACU’s 40, 71 points to ACU’s 55 points, and a hitting percentage of .257 compared to ACU’s .083. 

In their last match, UTEP volleyball faced the hosts of the tournament, the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. UTEP won their first set 25-20, taking the lead early. The Golden Eagles did answer back winning the second set 25-23, but Oral Roberts could not overcome the Miners’ next two decisive wins (25-19 and 25-17). The match’s final score was UTEP 3, Oral Roberts 1. 

Against Oral Roberts, graduate student outside hitter Serena Patterson and right-side hitter Sara Pustahija led the team in kills with 18 and 15. Patterson also had the highest hitting percentage at .350. UTEP scored a total of 84 points compared to Oral Roberts University’s 55 points. UTEP also noted 64 kills to ORU’s 44 kills. The Miners averaged a hitting percentage of .249 compared to ORU’s .162.  

The UTEP volleyball team now heads to Tuscon, Arizona for the Arizona Volleyball Tournament and will face off against the California State University Matadors at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16, the Arizona Wildcats at 5:30 p.m. and the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 17. 

The home match against the University of Rio Grande Valley took place 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at Memorial Gym. 

Statistics provided by UTEP Athletics, Tulsa Athletics and Oral Roberts Athletics. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram