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Volleyball busts out the brooms in series sweep against Florida International

Joel Molina
Outside hitter/middle blocker Alianza Darley jumps into the air to hit the ball during a set against FIU Oct. 7.

The UTEP volleyball team (13-6, C-USA 5-3) swept Florida International University (FIU) in a two- game series which took place Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday Oct. 8, at Memorial Gym.  The wins extended the team’s 5-0 home streak.   

Game one   

Set one during game one, the Miners went out and took an early double-digit lead (10-4), however the FIU Panthers had a 6-1 run after taking a timeout. Senior right-side hitter Marian Ovalle helped close out the game with two major kills and a block. Freshman setter Kalia Kohler closed out the set with an ace which led the Miners to take set one 25-18.   

Set two was different as the Panthers put up a tougher battle. The set featured seven tied scores, but UTEP took control in a 6-3 stretch just to lose the lead as FIU scored seven unanswered points. Once again Ovalle and Kohler came up big to help UTEP retake the lead. UTEP went on a 5-0 run near the end of the set to push the lead to 23-13 Ovalle and junior middle blocker Danika Washington delivered a set sealing block as the Miners took the set 25-18 again.   

Set three was not very different as the Miners took an early 10-6 lead. Just as in the other two sets, the score was close. The Panthers forced four tied scores and the Panthers made their way back into the set. The Miners had a massive 17 kill set with an accompanying 12 blocks. FIU was down 20-17 and was forced to take a time out. After the timeout, the Panthers managed to only grab two more points as graduate student middle blocker Sakira LaCour wrapped up the match 25-19.

Game two  

The Miners offense was on fire as graduate student outside hitter and middle Blocker Darley recorded a hitting percentage of .529 with ten kills while sophomore setter Mattie Gantt and freshman setter Kalia Kohler combined for 38 assists. On defense, sophomore middle blocker Kaya Weaver notched up six blocks and Sianez had a match high of nine digs which now has her sitting at a whopping total of 1,007 digs.   

Set one UTEP had three consecutive kills which lead to an early 5-1 lead. The Miners managed to pull ahead with a 13-4 lead, however UTEP had its own stint to catch up. Weaver and Ovalle put a quick end to the FIU run with a key block. FIU committed three errors which let Gantt score a key kill to take the set 25-16.  

Set two was different, as the Panthers took an early lead 9-4, which forced the Miners to take a timeout. Both teams went back and forth for ten serves, however, FIU committed some crucial errors allowing the Miners to come within reach of two. The tempo of play changed as the Miners then went on a stunning 9-0 run with Darley closing out the set with a kill finishing 25-20.   

Set three, the Miners came out with a vengeance. FIU scored the first two points, and the offense became almost nonexistent as the Miners responded with six straight unanswered points and continued to pile on to the lead. As the Miners led 11-4, the Panthers were forced to take a timeout twice as the team was down 17-8. After the timeouts, nothing changed as the Miners put up two points to take the 22-9 lead. Darley notched up a kill, leading to back-to-back strikes by junior outside hitter Deanna Almaguer which helped wrap up the two-game sweep against FIU. 

Senior libero Alyssa Sianez engraved her name in Miners’ history in Sunday’s sweep. Sianez became the fourteenth player in the program’s history to join the 1,000-dig club 

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

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About the Contributors
Gianluca Cuevas
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.
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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