Sophomores Jeane Horton and Jacqueline Cason registered career-highs of 17 and 14 kills, respectively as the UTEP volleyball team (11-5, 1-1 C-USA) claimed its first Conference USA victory of the season over SMU (4-10, 0-2 C-USA) on Sunday at Memorial Gym. The Miners outlasted the Mustangs in five sets (20-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-27, 15-6).
“Once we started putting pressure on the Mustangs, we were able to control their hitters,” head coach Ken Murphy said. “We know we have to continue getting better for us to keep moving forward against really good teams.”
Sophomore Xitlali Herrera matched her career-high kills total hammering 18 against the Ponies and added a career-best 12 blocks (2s/10a) in the triumph.
Junior Bridget Logan added 14 kills and sophomore Malia Patterson recorded a career-high 55 assists. Senior Stephanie Figueroa tallied a match-high 28 digs, while Marie-Therese Joyce was also in double figures with 13.
SMU took an early lead in the first set with Jessica Oliver and Carla Armstrong posting four kills each. Oliver had a perfect hitting percentage (4-0-4) to help the Mustangs register a .357 average.
UTEP fought back in the second stanza, with Herrera leading the way, striking six kills, three block assists and two digs. Cason followed closely behind with five kills and a .467 hitting percentage. The Miners kept the Mustangs to a .203 hitting percentage.
The Miners continued the momentum into the third frame. A kill by Cassandra Burruel gave the Miners a 6-7 lead. UTEP never let go of the set as Logan posted four kills and a .381 hitting percentage.
UTEP looked promising in the fourth set, as the Miners held advantages of 16-13, 18-15 and 22-21. An unlucky sequence ensued, however, with back-to-back Mustang kills to give SMU a 27-25 victory.
UTEP took control early in the decisive set, as it led 6-0 and 12-4. UTEP sealed the match with a kill by Herrera to give the Miners a 15-6 victory over the Mustangs.
The Miners begin a two-match road trip next weekend, taking on Marshall on Friday at 5 p.m. MT and ECU on Sunday at 12 p.m. MT.