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With UTEP volleyball’s season underway, new faces emerge under veteran wings

The+season+will+start+off+with+the+Southeastern+Louisiana+Tournament+with+the+Miners+facing+Washington+University+for+their+first+game.++Photo+courtesy+of+The+Prospector+archive+
The season will start off with the Southeastern Louisiana Tournament with the Miners facing Washington University for their first game. Photo courtesy of The Prospector archive

After reaching the semifinals but falling short at the C-USA Finals in 2022 to Rice University, UTEP Volleyball kicked off the start of their 2023 season with a 4-set sweep exhibition game against Grand Canyon University, Aug. 19.

The Miners were ranked second in the C-USA preseason poll ranking ,with Western Kentucky University ranked higher. The season officially started off with the Southeastern Louisiana Tournament. There, the Miners’ first game was versus Washington University, a top 25 school in the country.   

Coach Ben Wallis believes the next four weekends will demonstrate where the Miners stand.   

“We know a ton about ourselves but we’re going to learn a ton in the next four weekends where we play really good teams conference champion type blood, runner-up conference champion or power 5 program every weekend,” Wallis said.   

UTEP will then host the Borderland invitational tournament where the team will play its’ season home opener in their “915 Game” versus San Francisco University Aug. 31.   

The Miners first conference game will be at Western Kentucky University and features the top conference preseason poll rankings.   

“It’s just two conference opponents trying to go beat the crap out of each other that first weekend,” said Wallis regarding the matchup.  

Although Miner fans will see familiar faces from last season, they will also be getting six new freshman this year. Kalia Kohler Fr. Setter, Beatrice Gennari Fr. Middle blocker/Opposite, Genavi Oyoyo Fr. Middle Blocker, Ava Martindale Fr. Libero/Defensive Specialist   Lauren Wallace Fr. Outside hitter, Deanna Almaguer Outside/Rightside Hitter, Danika Washington Jr. Middle Blocker, and Trinity Gomez Fr. Setter. Although there are new faces on the team, these six young players are capable of helping the lineup out.   

While falling short to previously ranked No. 21 Rice to reach the C-USA final, the Miners won’t be facing Rice this year as the school left the conference.   

The Miners will be seeing new proven opponents such as Jacksonville State who has been a top 50 team the past few years in a row winning 20 games five years in a row, NMSU who is perennially a top 100 team alongside Liberty University who has been a top 100 team in the past couple of years.   

Chemistry seems to be the key factor for UTEP to have another successful season. The connection between players and coaches is much higher than it was last season, which may have caused close matches to slip away. This year, connections and chemistry seem to be on the Miners side as they are optimistic to have a successful season.  

“We’re a better offensive team this year than last because we’re more veteran and were also more physical,” Wallis said. “We have a lot of people that can hurt you and that’s the nice part. If people don’t want to hit the ball around us or hit high enough, were going to make you pay, which is pretty exciting.” 

Gianluca Cuevas is a photographer and may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Gianluca Cuevas, Photographer
Gianluca Cuevas is a staff photographer for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. He plans to work in the automotive industry designing cars/mechanic in the F1. He also has his small photography business 365elements which he plans to continue to grow.
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