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UTEP Volleyball struggles at home after road win

The UTEP Miners volleyball team won against LA Tech Friday, Oct. 14 before losing against Western Kentucky University Sunday, Oct. 16. Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics.

The UTEP Miners (11-9, Conference USA 5-2) fell to Western Kentucky University (19-2. Conference USA 7-0) Sunday, Oct. 16, after beating LA Tech (9-13, Conference USA 2-5) on the road Friday, Oct. 14. 

LA Tech Bulldogs 

The UTEP Miners came out big against the LA Tech Bulldogs Oct. 14, winning three of four sets. The Miners dominated virtually every metric in this match recording 59 points, 44 kills, 7 aces, eight blocks, 43 assists and 68 digs. LA Tech only scored 42 points, 35 kills, two aces and 33 assists. 

Leaders for the Miners include senior outside hitter/middle blocker Alianza Darley who noted 14 kills, junior setter Hande Yetis with 20 assists and senior defensive specialist/libero Hula Crisostomo with 13 digs. 

“I thought that Darley and (graduate student outside hitter Serena Patterson) just carried us to the victory,” Head Coach Ben Wallis said of his top player’s performance after the game “Moving Darley to a more comfortable place to get some more swings for her was good for us. It was a little bit of a risk to try to get her moved a little bit, knowing that she’s leading the conference in blocks. But I think getting her more swings is important for us long term.” 

UTEP also controlled the statistical edge during this match by earning a .146 hitting percentage compared to the Bulldogs’ .055 hitting percentage. 

WKU Hilltoppers 

The Miners faced the No. 23 team in the WKU Hilltoppers Oct. 16, which resulted in a devastating loss. The Hilltoppers stomped UTEP in a 3-1 match. WKU proved its worth managing to score 67 points, 45 kills, 17 aces and 47 digs. 

The Miners managed to compete with the Hilltoppers, nearly matching those same metrics and surpassing in aces, digs and blocks. Darley once again led in kills with 12, while also contributing 5 blocks. Meanwhile, Yetis noted 19 assists and Crisostomo led once again in digs with 11. The team also beat WKU’s hitting percentage with .224 as opposed to the Hilltopper’s .216. 

“I love the way we competed against WKU,” Wallis said. “I’m proud of Darely and Patterson showing a lot of growth in the last two or three weeks and getting back to a place where they just go in and carry a lot of loads. I’m hopeful in one month we’re playing (WKU) on their home floor with a chance to win a conference championship, and we’ll be ready, and we’ll be prepared.” 

The Miners stay in the Sun City as they await the UTSA Roadrunners (7-12, Conference USA 2-5) 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at Memorial Gym.  

The Roadrunners have defeated the Miners 16 times in 20 matches over the course of 15 years. The last time the Miners beat the Roadrunners was October 2021 in San Antonio during a 3-2 nailbiter. 

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

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor
Emmanuel Rivas is the sports editor for The Prospector and is also a writer for Minero Magazine. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and chicano studies. Although unsure about his future, Emmanuel plans to move back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to work in journalism, media, communication or public relations.
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UTEP Volleyball struggles at home after road win