HAMMOND, La. – The UTEP volleyball team (2-0) conquered Friday’s double header with a victory over nearly-ranked Pac-12 foe Washington, 3-2, and swept Grambling State, 3-0, at the Southeastern Showdown.  

UTEP has had three Power 5 wins since the start of the 2021 season including Friday’s victory against Washington. In the previous 26 years, UTEP accumulated four wins against Power 5 opponents. 

“Obviously we’re really excited to be able to start the season off with a big win over a good opponent who went to the NCAA tournament last year,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “We did not expect to walk out and for it to be easy. We also didn’t expect to walk out and get rolled either because we are a good team and we’re complete in many ways when we’re intentional and when we got our brains in the right place.” 

UTEP 3, (RV) Washington 2

The UTEP volleyball team topped the Huskies, 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 15-9) at the Southeastern Showdown Friday.  

UTEP had three players reach double-digits in kills, graduate student Alianza Darley (15), sophomore Kaya Weaver (11) and junior Torrance Lovesee (10). Freshman Kalia Kohler (24) and senior Hande Yetis (23) combined to put up 47 assists and senior Alyssa Sianez had a match-high 30 digs, just one dig away from matching her career high of 31. 

UTEP’s all-around performance held the statistical advantage in kills (63-53), blocks (13-9), hitting percentage (.228 – .147), but were out hit in service aces (6-9). 

“We’re a really good defensive team when we want to be,” Wallis said. “We’re a really good blocking team and we want to be. And that showed itself this morning when we played a really good Washington team. And so, you know, we were able to jump on them defensively in blocking it. And then we just found a way at the end of the first and the fourth set that just to kind of do too many uncharacteristic things and that’s kind of what happens in the first match of the year.” 

SET ONE | The opening game set the tone for the match as both teams came out strong with an intense back-and-forth performance. The Miners acquired a five-point lead early on, 10-5, but the Huskies evened the score at 14 and at 18 before taking back the lead forcing a UTEP timeout. Back-to-back kills by newcomer Sakira LaCour and Darley put the Miners back on top, but UW knocked out two kills and a block to be first on the board with a set win, 25-23. 

SET TWO | UTEP kept up with UW’s pace to get set two rolling. After nine tied occasions, the Miners rolled out a six-point run, gave up two, but continued to pressure the Huskies as UW posted three consecutive errors handing UTEP a set win, 25-19. 

SET THREE | As the intensity continued into the third set, UTEP had a couple of scoring runs to regain the lead. Down by one, at 19-20, the Miners smacked three kills and took advantage of a UW error as they inched closer to set point. LaCour and Putsahija were able to tack on kills for the second set win, 25-23.  

SET FOUR | UW stretched the lead multiple times in the fourth that included a big four-point run after UTEP took a three-point lead. The Miners evened things out at 20, 21 and 22 before UW ran with the 25-22 set win to level the match and force the deciding set. 

SET FIVE | UTEP stormed out to a 5-1 lead and controlled the set. The Miners dealt an impressive 7-2 run that consisted of five kills. Lovesee slammed one last kill down to move into match point and Darley and LaCour went big at the net with a block that sealed the match with a 15-9 win.


UTEP blanked the Tigers, 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-16) at the Southeastern Showdown Friday.  

Sophomore Sara Pustahija led the team with nine kills while Kohler and Yetis put up 35 assists together. Four Miners tacked on two aces each, Kohler, Sianez, Pustahija and Madison Hill. Sianez recorded 14 digs as well.  

UTEP held the statistical advantage in kills (42-29), service aces (10-4), hitting percentage (.311 – .122), but were out-blocked (5-4). 

“We you know, we got some young players in, and we just didn’t play as hard,” Wallis said. “But we found a way to kind of kick it into high gear when we needed to. Our setters did some good stuff throughout the day, and it was really a good complete win for everyone.” 

SET ONE | UTEP came out hot to begin the match with a 9-1 lead over the Tigers. As the Miners held an 11-point lead, just two points away from the set win, GSU drew up a seven-point scoring run to close in on the Miners, but UTEP’s Lovesee put up a kill and block with Danika Washington to win the set, 25-19.   

SET TWO | The Miners had full control of the second set. UTEP had a 15-9 advantage before GSU slowly tacked on points and eventually closed in on the Miners’ 22-21 lead forcing a timeout. The sidebar proved to be successful as UTEP came back with three consecutive points added on for the 25-21 set win. 

SET THREE | The teams had an early and short-lived battle to kick off the final set. A GSU error gave UTEP the last lead of the match while Pustahija stretch it with three straight kills lifting the Miners into double digits. UTEP continued to pull ahead with little to no error as Pustahija and LaCour handed in an ace and kill to secure the sweep.  

UTEP will take aim at becoming tournament champions of the SELA Tournament when it locks up with host Southeastern Louisiana at 12:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Aug. 26. There will be live stats for the match and there will also be a live stream on ESPN+ for the contest against the Lady Lions.