EL PASO – The UTEP volleyball team (9-7, 3-0 Conference USA) set a season high .460 hitting percentage in a sweep victory over LA Tech (7-10, 1-2 C-USA), 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-16) Friday evening in Memorial Gym.
Torrance Lovesee and Sara Pustahija led the Miners with nine kills each. Lovesee achieved a career-high attack percentage of .727 andPustahija recorded a personal best attack percentage of .571. Mattie Gantt (16) and Hande Yetis (12) combined to put up 28 assists for the Miners and Hula Crisostomo had a team-high 11 digs. Gantt achieved a career-high of five service aces.
UTEP held the statistical advantage in kills (35-16), blocks (8-1), hitting percentage (.460 – (-.079)), and service ace (7-4).
“We defended really well and we served it tough and we frustrated them,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “LA Tech has been playing really well and they’ve been causing problems for people. So, I’m really proud of our team in general tonight and I thought we did a really good job. Torrance (Lovesee) and Sara (Pustahija) both led us in in points when it came to scoring and SP (Patterson) was just locked in. I mean, she looks like she’s just back to her old self, thinking about nothing more than just helping this team win, which is exciting.”
SET ONE | The Miners got off to a hot start to begin the match driving up a 12-4 lead that consisted of six kills and two service aces. LA Tech pulled out a 4-1 run, but the Miners responded with a 5-1 run of their own to stretch the lead, 21-10. UTEP gave up two points to the Lady Techsters before closing out the set, 25-12.
SET TWO | LA Tech kept a tight score to open the second set, 6-6. The Lady Techsters broke the tie in favor of the Miners from an attack error that snowballed in to a 5-1 run for UTEP, 12-7, forcing LA Tech to sidebar. LA Tech’s attempt to ice the Miners didn’t go as planned as UTEP drove a 5-2 run that swayed LA Tech to use their second timeout of the set, 17-9. Lovesee landed three straight kills that pushed the Miners into set point andEma Uskokovic put one down to seal the win, 25-14.
SET THREE | UTEP took full control of the final set, kicking off with a 5-1 lead. LA Tech came within two points on two occasions early in the set, but the Miners pulled away to extend the lead, 14-8. As the Lady Techsters trailed by four, they took their first timeout and after the break UTEP shredded three straight kills compelling LA Tech to take another timeout, 22-16. A kill from Lovesee and Gantts career-breaking ace directed the Miners into match point and an assisted block by Alianza Darley and Lovesee capped the match with a sweep victory, 25-16.
Final Thoughts from Coach Wallis
“I challenged my team this week defensively about being more attentive to just giving the right amount of effort, and from the six people on the floor to the 14 people on the sideline, being a tougher defensive team, because I know that North Texas and Rice are coming in here and both of them are playing very well. And we’re going to have to play collectively very good match on Sunday because North Texas is playing very well, and they’ve got just as athletic team as we do and they’re hot. They’re excited they’re playing while they’re playing hard. So, a lot of the things we did tactically today, were in preparation for UNT and I was proud of our effort from the block-digs-serve side of things now you know you look at our numbers and they (LA Tech) hit negative which makes me happy always; anytime we can hold the team down below their season average is what you’re looking for. But I think what we’ve been doing in the last four or five matches is really scoring well, which is what we weren’t doing earlier in the year. So now that we’re scoring well and if we can continue to have a defensive mindset and block-dig-serve mindset, we’re going to keep scoring and we’re scoring it very well on the left right now. We’re going to be challenged on Sunday because UNT’s got some athletic opposites. They’ve got some athletic middles. They are in 6-2 offense. So, it’s going to be a battle of the 6-2 offenses and see who can be more efficient and execute better. And we did some things in the in the match tonight that we need in order to win on Sunday. So, it’s going to be a war. We need everybody in El Paso to come cheer us on Sunday because it’s going to be an absolute war between two good athletic, physical teams. Now we have to turn around and try to replicate tonight’s performance and really try to frustrate North Texas and focus on stopping them on Sunday, which we’re looking forward to thechallenges.”
Miners are back in action as they host North Texas on Sunday (Oct. 2) at 12 p.m. MT in Memorial Gym.