The UTEP volleyball team returns home to take on Houston (7 p.m., Friday) and Rice (12 p.m., Sunday). The Miners (11-10, 5-4 C-USA), whose last home match was on Sept. 30, head into this weekend’s action with a four-match winning streak in Memorial Gym.
Juniors Jeane Horton and Xitlali Herrera continue to lead the Miners’ attack. Horton registered two double-digit kill performances, including a match-high 17 kills versus SMU (10/14) this past weekend. Herrera recorded a double-double against Tulsa (10/12) with 17 kills and 15 digs.
Houston Scouting Report
Series: The Cougars hold a 11-7 advantage over the Miners. The last time the squads faced each other UTEP ran past Houston with a 3-0 victory (10/7). The Miners earned their first road victory against the Cougars. Jeane Horton led the Miners attack, hammering 15 kills and posting a .256 hitting percentage. Junior Malia Patterson recorded a match-high 32 assists and added five kills, four digs and two block assists. Libero Victoria Valencia also registered a match-high with 17 digs and tallied five assists to defeat Houston.
Houston is led by setter Abby Simmons, who registered a total of 92 assists over the weekend. The senior tallied 53 assists to lead the Cougars to a 3-1 victory over top-ranked Marshall. Simmons is ranked seventh in C-USA for assists per set (8.89). On the offensive side, Chandace Tryon knows how to hit some balls averaging 2.83 kills per set. The senior has earned the No. 2 and No. 7 spot in the league rankings for hitting percentage (.336) and blocks (1.04), respectively. Houston is ranked in four categories in the C-USA standings: blocks (2.04-6th), digs (14.96-7th), hitting percentage (.184-8th) and service aces (0.96-9th).
Rice Scouting Report
Series: The Owls come into the weekend with a 26-8 record against the Miners. In what proved to be a close match from the start, the Miners totaled 41 kills, 40 assists, 56 digs and four team blocks but it wasn’t enough to stop the Owls who registered 14 total team blocks to sprint past UTEP (10/5). Two Miners had double-digit kill performances with Jeane Horton posting 15 and Taylor Nix with 11. Junior Xitlali Herrera had 12 digs, six kills and three block assists. Setter Malia Patterson registered a match-high 35 assists and added nine digs versus the Owls.
Rice is ranked first in C-USA in hitting percentage (.239), second in assists (13.44), kills (14.24) and digs (17.06) and third in blocks (2.35). Megan Murphy leads the team, as she is the only player in the league to rank in assists (11.18-1st) and hitting percentage (.328-4th). The junior has already tallied 918 assists, 188 digs, 108 kills and 35 block assists for the Owls. Sophomore Jilian Humphrey knows how to protect the net, averaging 1.22 blocks per set to earn her the No. 2 spot in the C-USA rankings. Rice has accumulated 1169 kills, 1103 assists, 1401 digs and 194 blocks (44s/300a).
Miners in the Rankings
The Miners are among the best in Conference USA statistically, ranking second in blocks per set (2.4) and hitting percentage (.238), while ranking third in assists per set (12.18) and kills per set (13.30). The squad has compiled an impressive 1024 kills, 938 assists, 185 blocks (42s/286a) and 76 aces.
Nationally, UTEP is ranked in the top 75 in two categories; hitting percentage (63rd), and blocks per set (64th). The Miners also check in 96th in kills per set.
Horton on Track for Huge Season
Jeane Horton has already hammered 329 kills this season. If she can maintain her current pace, she would finish second all time at UTEP in kills in a single campaign.
The outside hitter is one of two Conference USA players ranked in the top 30 in the nation for kills per set. The junior checks in at 28th in the nation averaging 4.27 kills per set. The Fresno, Calif., native is one of the only players to rank in the top 10 in conference in hitting percentage (.313-8th) and kills per set (2nd).
Malia Patterson has shown to be a force not only as a setter but her defensive strives have proven to be effective as well in 2012. The junior has executed seven double-doubles this season. The setter continues to maintain the No. 2 spot in the conference rankings for assists per set (10.68). The junior has tallied 12 service aces surpassing her mark from last season were she posted five. Patterson can also protect the net as she adds 35 block assists, breaking her 2011 season record of 30. The setter is also closing in on 200 total digs this season. She has 186 heading into this weekend’s competition.
C-USA Taking Notice
UTEP has earned five Conference USA Athlete of the Week honors this season. Xitlali Herrera is the only individual to earn both of the league’s defensive award (9/10) and offensive award (10/1). The middle blocker has had a stellar season as she recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 15 kills and 11 digs against I-10 rival NM State (9/26). The junior also led the team past Houston (10/7), as she pounded nine kills, 11 digs, two block assists and hit a .300 clip.
Malia Patterson has been recognized by the league twice this season receiving C-USA setter of the week honors (9/24 & 10/1). The junior contributed 56 assists and eight digs versus the Aggies. Patterson tallied 35 assists, nine digs, two block assists and two kills versus the Cougars.
Jeane Horton was named offensive player of the week (9/24) leading the Miners’ attack with a match-high 21 kills on 30 attempts with only two errors as UTEP defeated Southern Miss (9/23).
Juniors Leaving Their Mark
Juniors Xitlali Herrera and Jeane Horton have dented the UTEP recordbook this season.
Herrera continues to leave her mark in the school annals. The middle blocker earned the fourth all-time spot in the recordbook in hitting efficiency in three sets as she registered a .647 hitting percentage against UAB (9/28). Previously, the Mexican native also posted 16 kills on 24 attacks with three errors versus Southern Miss (9/23). She recorded a .542 efficiency to rate fourth all time for hitting percentage in four sets.
Also checking in the category is Horton, who hammered 21 kills on 30 attempts with only two errors against the Golden Eagles. The outside hitter registered a .633 percentage to rank second in the classification.
Xitlali Herrera is an all around player, earning spots in three categories in Conference USA only matches rankings. The junior is ranked second in hitting percentage (.357), sixth in blocks (1.15) and seventh in kills (3.33). The middle blocker has contributed five double-doubles this season for the Miners. Herrera leads the squad in hitting percentage with a .313 while ranking second on the team in five categories; kills (239), blocks 77 (12s/65a), digs (197), service aces (12). She is coming off a stellar individual performance against Tulsa (10/12). The middle blocker led the team in both kills and digs with 17 and 15, respectively.
Burruel for the Block
Cassandra Burruel is on a tear in 2012. The senior has crushed her 2011 block total (24) by registering 91 thus far. The senior checks in at No. 3 in Conference USA in blocks per set 1.18. The middle blocker posted her second double-digit block effort with 10 (1s/9a) against Southern Miss (9/23). She also added eight kills in the match-up. Burruel has tallied a total of 125 kills this season.
Can’t Get Through Here
UTEP’s frontcourt is dominating defensively through 21 matches in 2012. The squad is ranked second in blocks per set in Conference USA and 64th nationally (2.40). Senior Cassandra Burruel is ranked third in the league and 79th nationally averaging 1.18 blocks per set, while Xitlali Herrera checks is ninth at 1.00. The Orange and Blue are known for defensive prowess. Since Ken Murphy’s arrival, the Miners have averaged 2.26 blocks per frame compared with 1.9 in the five years prior. Additionally, UTEP has strung together three straight top-80 finishes nationally.
Valencia Digs it Away
Victoria Valencia leads the Miners defense with a total of 277 digs this season. The libero is averaging 3.60 per set to check in at 10th in the Conference USA performance list. The junior is also 10th in the league in service aces with 0.23 per set. She is one of two in the conference to achieve the double.