Juniors Jeane Horton and Xitlali Herrera registered match-highs against SMU, but it wasn’t enough as the Mustangs defeated the Miners, 3-1 (25-15, 25-22, 21-25, 26-24) on Sunday.
Horton led the Miners attack hammering a match-best 17 kills and posted a .342 hitting percentage versus SMU. Herrera also had a stellar showing recording a match-high seven blocks (1s/6a) and added 14 kills, six digs and hit .321.
UTEP (11-10, 5-4 C-USA) recorded 13 total net stoppers as the Miners out blocked the Mustangs, but it wasn’t enough as SMU pounded 55 kills.
SMU ran out to a 7-2 lead at the start of the first set with a pair of kills by Cailin Bula. The Miners called a timeout in hopes of recovering from the deficit, but SMU strung together a 3-1 run to give the Mustangs a seven point advantage. UTEP would not go away as easily registering a 4-2 run with two kills by Taylor Nix and a pair of SMU errors. The Mustangs would not back down recording a 5-1 run to extend their advantage to 18-10. The squads would trade points until once again SMU struck with a 5-1 run to give the Mustangs a 23-14 lead. Jacqueline Cason hammered back-to-back kills for the Miners, but SMU took the set with a service ace from Olivia Bailey, 25-15.
The second frame started like the first as the Mustangs took an early 4-2 lead over the Miners. UTEP tried to battle back from the deficit but SMU surged with a 5-1 run making the Miners to take a timeout at 10-5. The Mustangs maintained the lead for most of frame, but UTEP fought back stringing together a 4-1 run to make it a five point set at 20-15. The Miners would record one last 4-1 run together to get as close as two but ultimately SMU took the stanza with a kill by Abbey Bybel.
UTEP came out strong after the break, taking an early 5-2 lead over the Mustangs with a block assists and a kill by Cason. SMU tried to stop the Miners run posting a 3-1 run of their own, but UTEP answered right back with a 3-1 run led by Herrera who tallied a block assist and a kill. The Miners would strike again as Herrera hammered two kills and Horton posted three of her own putting UTEP ahead, 14-10. But it wouldn’t be that easy as SMU recorded a 5-1 run to take a one point lead over the Miners in the frame. UTEP would not give up as they pulled the win with a 4-1 run led by Horton and Cassandra Burruel who both pounded a kill and a block to seal the set, 25-21.
Herrera posted three kills to give UTEP a 3-1 advantage in the fourth set against the Mustangs. The teams would go back and forward until the Miners struck with a 4-1 run with back-to-back block assists by Herrera and Bridget Logan. Herrera was a force at the net adding another block as UTEP strung together a 3-1 run to extend their lead by five at 15-10. SMU would not relent as they put together a 5-1 run led by two kills and a block assists by Maddie Lozano. The Mustangs tied the frame at 18-18 scoring three consecutive points. The Miners battled back with a 4-1 run to put UTEP up by two at 22-20 forcing SMU to call a timeout. After the break the Mustangs registered a 5-1 run to steal the final set from UTEP, 26-24.
After being on the road for two weeks, The Miners will final return home to take on Houston at 7 p.m. (MT) in Memorial Gym on Friday.