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UTEP puts out the fire with two wins against Liberty University ahead of final matchup

Joel Molina
Outside hitter/middle blocker Alianza Darley celebrates a score with her teammates.

UTEP Women’s Volleyball accomplished many achievements during its battle against the Liberty University Flames in the season finale doubleheader. The Miners successfully extinguished the fire in the two matches held at Memorial Gym. 

Both games were among the most intense of the whole season, proving Liberty University to be a worthy adversary. After breaking a fan attendance record of 1,803 attendees at Friday’s game, celebrating the four graduating senior players and preserving a perfect history at home with 10-0, the Miners displayed how to end an exciting sports season with fireworks.  

Father-in-law of head coach Ben Wallis, Jay Nye a UTEP volleyball fan and alumnus spoke about the excitement and importance of this season. 

“I think they like each other (the Miners), which makes for good camaraderie and teamwork on the court,” Nye said. “It’s good to have some winning teams for the Miners; I graduated from here a few years ago, so it’s nice to have some winners.” 

UTEP’s head volleyball coach, Wallis, spoke about the fun environment of both games and the excitement he has for going into the Conference Championship. As the team has worked hard all season, for this championship.  

“We really got back to doing what we do best offensively, and we played hard to get back to our identity as a blocking team,” Wallis said. “It’s always fun to celebrate our seniors and end it with a win. It’s taken us five years to achieve our goal of being undefeated at home, and it makes me proud to know that we wrapped up the season with 20 wins which shows that we’re doing something right.”  

Game One: 

In set one, UTEP blazed the Flamebirds with an 8-3 point start, stretching the lead 15-10 with three straight kills from middle blocker Sakira LaCour and outside hitter Torrance Lovesee. This caused four consecutive kills from the Flames, which pushed UTEP into a timeout. Soon after the break, there were three kills, an ace from the Miners and a 5-0 kill streak building up to a set point and block from middle blocker Kaya Weaver and outside hitter/middle blocker Alianza Darley getting the win with 25-17.   

In set two, the Flames fired up to an eleven. Although there was a lead from the Miners early with two back-to-back kills from LaCour, the Miners stumbled, with Liberty securing the set win 25-23.  

However, in set three, the team sprung back into action, with Darley and Weaver making back-to-back kills, putting the Miners in the lead 9-3. Soon, middle blocker Danika Washington created an eight-point lead and the Miners took the set from four Weaver kills and a Liberty attack error.

Set four was a whirlwind of tension and excitement, with a spontaneous dance battle from the coaches to get the excitement more off the lid because of back-to-back challenges. Soon after UTEP won the second challenge, this fueled the team with a lead from the Miners at 9-3.  After three straight kills from the Flames, UTEP forced a timeout. Soon after efforts from Weaver and Darley, UTEP was in a 7-1 run with a total score of 23-12. They were up after a 5-0 rally from the Flames. With an attack error, the Miners took the 25-21 win in game one.  

Game Two:

In set one, the Flames had a three-kill opener, the Miners retaliated with seven kills and two beneficial errors from Liberty. As Liberty began to rise point after point, two timeouts were made throughout the set. After some back and forth and a few errors, LaCour and Washington helped take the set one win 25-21. Set two had a quick run with an 8-3 lead from UTEP and both teams went one-for-one with 12 serves, with a score of 15-9.   

After a timeout from Liberty, the Miners soon won the set with a kill from LaCour and a duo block from outside hitter Lauren Wallace and Weaver with a score of 25-15. Set three was a rush consisting of five lead changes and 13 tied scores. Another fierce back and forth between the teams ensued, with UTEP taking advantage of four service errors from the Flames. This had the Miners going up and eventually winning the set and game with two kills, two blocks and a Flames service error with a final score of 25-20.  

The Miners are set to face Liberty on opening day of the Conference USA Championship Tournament, Friday, Nov. 17, in Lynchburg, Va. hosted by Liberty.

H. Catching Marginot is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
H. Catching Marginot
H. Catching Marginot, Contributor/Writer
Henry Catching Marginot is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English: rhetorical studies. He is a contributor at The Prospector and freelances. He plans to pursue writing in the future.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Photo Editor
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the photo editor who 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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