Volleyball falls in a heartbreaking loss to NMSU

Miner+lose+game+agains+NMSU+Aggies+on+Battle+of+I-10+Classic%2C+Nov.+23+at+Memorial+Gym.+Photo+courtesy+of+UTEP+Athletics.

Miner lose game agains NMSU Aggies on Battle of I-10 Classic, Nov. 23 at Memorial Gym. Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

UTEP’s volleyball team ended its season with the Battle of I-10 against rival New Mexico State University (NMSU). The Miners are coming off a devastating elimination from the Conference USA Tournament Saturday, Nov. 19 in Bowling Green, Kentucky to No. 22 Rice University in a 3-0 shutout. 

The Miners headed back to the Sun City for one final fight against the NMSU Aggies with the match starting at noon Nov. 23 at Memorial Gym. Before the mid-week match-up, the Aggies faced Grand Canyon University in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Nov. 17, where they fell in the first round in a 3-0 shutout. 

NMSU started the rivalry showdown by taking the first set 25-21. The winning point came in part to a service error from freshman outside hitter Torrance Lovesee. NMSU benefited from four UTEP attack errors. 

The second set also went to the Aggies after only allowing 23 points from the Miners. The set was closed when senior outside hitter and middle blocker Alianza Darley committed an attack error. In this set, the Miners committed five blocking errors to NMSU’s six. 

The Miners finally took a set in the third to avoid another shutout. This time, the Miners outscored the Aggies, 25-17. UTEP took the lead early on thanks to a kill by freshman middle blocker Kaya Weaver after an assist from freshman setter Mattie Gantt. The Miners would then seal the deal after graduate outside hitter Serena Patterson received an assist from Grantt. 

UTEP evened the match in the fourth set after losing two sets in a row. The first point went to UTEP thanks to a kill from Grantt. The Aggies regained the lead but could not come back after UTEP went on a scoring rampage. This set ended 25-21 in favor of UTEP after junior defensive specialist Alyssa Sianez nailed a service ace. 

The fifth and final set was neck and neck as each team nailed its execution. The Miners did trail the entire set, never taking the lead. NMSU outside hitter Ryleigh Whitekettle got the set’s first point off a kill from setter Rylee Fay. After slowly making a comeback, the Miners ended up losing the match when freshman right hand and outside hitter commited an attack error. The mistake cost UTEP the set and the match. 

Scoring leaders for the Miners were Darley and Lovesee who combined for 22 points. The team dropped 106 points compared to NMSU’s 103. The Miners also led in kills, total attacks, hitting percentage, assists and total blocks.  

The Miners ended the season with 17 wins and 13 losses. In conference play, UTEP was 10-4. This is down after last year’s 24-8 standing. 

All statistics provided by UTEP Athletics. 

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