OWLING GREEN, Ky.– The UTEP volleyball team (17-12, 10-4 Conference USA) concluded its time in the Conference USA Tournament Saturday afternoon following its valiant effort in a loss to No. 22 Rice (25-3, 13-1 C-USA), 3-0 (18-25, 12-25, 23-25), in the C-USA semifinals at E. A. Diddle Arena.
On the offense, Torrance Lovesee led the Miners with 11 kills and Mattie Gantt with 13 assists. Serena Patterson notched eight digs for the defense.
UTEP recorded six services aces and two blocks while hitting .221.
SET ONE | The Miners jumped to a 7-3 lead to open the match consisting of four aces by Gantt (2) and Patterson (2). No. 22 Rice responded with a 7-0 run to hold a 13-10 lead. The Owls posted three straight entering the red zone and the Miners recorded a block and kill before the Owls sealed the set win, 25-18.
SET TWO | Rice had an explosive start in the second set holding the Miners 14-4. Back-to-back kill and ace by Patterson lifted the Miners into double digits, but the Owls hit a pair of kills to win the set, 25-12, and take a 2-0 advantage in the match.
SET THREE | The final set consisted of 11 tied scores and six lead changes. UTEP was first to arrive at 15 points in the set holding the Owls to 12. Rice evened the set at 17 and regained the lead, 18-17. The Miners leveled out the set at the 18 and 19 markers and turned the set around to lead 23-22 with a 4-1 run. The Owls landed two more kills and took advantage of a UTEP error to win the match, 25-23.
Final Thoughts from UTEP’s Veteran Leader Duo
“It’s bittersweet and I’ve been thinking about this moment for a really long time. This was my first conference tournament and last conference tournament, and I wish the outcome was different, obviously. But, you know, to be here for the first time and I didn’t have any accolades or achievements coming out of UTEP, but I feel like I made a difference. I feel like I brought a great passion, a great attitude. And even though I wasn’t named a leader, I feel like I was a leader with my voice and with who I am as a person and just playing the game that I love. And at first, coming to UTEP, wasn’t what I expected, but I’m happy and I’m proud to be a Miner.”
“Just like Hula said, it’s bittersweet. This wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I’ve been here for a very long time, and I’ve been here since we were 5-21 on a year in 2018. So, I mean, just to come out and see a huge difference in our program just means a lot and it feels good to be a part of a program like that.”