HATTIESBURG, MS (KTSM) — Conference USA is officially on notice — UTEP volleyball has arrived.
The Miners (10-6, 8-4 C-USA) took to the floor for their first round matchup of the Conference USA Tournament in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, against Marshall and made quick work of the Thundering Herd (10-5, 8-4 C-USA), sweeping them in straight sets, 3-0 (25-22, 27-25, 25-19). It’s UTEP’s first postseason win since 2008.
The Miners are now riding a five-match winning streak — all coming in straight sets — for the first time since 1988. Head coach Ben Wallis, who is in his second year as UTEP’s head coach, has changed the culture inside Memorial Gym and he credits his players for buying in.
“They [UTEP players] want to set the history. They want to turn this program around,” said Wallis. “They want everyone in Conference USA to know that UTEP volleyball is no longer the laughing stock of the conference.”
For the first time since 2012, the Miners will finish the season with a winning record and it’s just one more box to check-off in a long list of goals that has been put forth by the program.
“It just feels good knocking things off our bucket list. We are taking it one step at a time,” said junior outside hitter Serena Patterson. “Last year, we made the tournament, but we lost in the first round. Now we are here — surviving and advancing — and it feels great to meet those goals.”
UTEP kept the pressure on Marshall throughout the match. Their 57 kills are the most by any Conference USA team in three-set match this season. Patterson recorded a team-high 14 kills while Paulina Pérez-Rosas (12) and Ava Palm (11) combined for 23 kills. Cheyenne Jones, who was named First Team All-Conference USA on Wednesday, tallied nine kills in the win.
The Miners will look to continue to make history in a matchup against Western Kentucky on Friday inside Reed Green Coliseum. Match time is set for 12 p.m. MT and the game will stream live on ESPN+.