The UTEP volleyball team defeated Jacksonville 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-8) at the Towne Place Suites/UCF Challenge in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday.
“Our team had a great fight today,” head coach Ken Murphy said. “I don’t think there was ever a time in the match where it was easy, but we just kept battling.”
Xitlali Herrera registered a career-high 18 kills and 12 digs, while Malia Patterson had 42 assists and Marie-Therese Joyce chipped in a team-best 17 digs.
UTEP came out firing, taking a 4-0 lead in the first set off of three Dolphin attack errors and an ace from Joyce.
The Miners remained steady, leading by four points twice in the frame, including a 17-13 advantage off a block by Herrera. The set continued to go back-and-forth before Bridget Logan closed out the set with a kill for the UTEP victory.
The Miners struggled in the second frame. With the score 4-1, UTEP pulled another string together as the combination of two attack errors from Jacksonville’s Niatha Cullen and a kill by Herrera gave the Miners a 7-2 lead. The Dolphins battled back with a pair of kills to take a 13-11 lead and forcing a UTEP time out. The Miners continued to fight back as Herrera pounded two consecutive kills to close out the deficit 21-19. UTEP tried to rally, but came up shy in the set, 25-20.
The Dolphins carried the momentum into the third stanza, taking a 6-3 lead. UTEP rallied back from the deficit, scoring four consecutive points to take a 6-7 lead. Assisted blocks by Jacqueline Cason and Joyce preceded a kill by Cason as the Miners surged ahead 15-12. UTEP held on to the lead for a 25-23 win.
The fourth set witnessed 15 ties and two lead changes with both teams out on the attack. UTEP pounded 10 kills and Jacksonville 13 nailed of their own as it proved to be a hard fought battle to take control of the contest. With three kills from Cullen, the Dolphin’s ultimately prevailed in the set, 25-23.
“We defended at a high level,” Murphy said. “We extended the rallies at important times.”
The deciding set was all UTEP. After a 2-2 tie, the Miners rattled off three-straight points to take control of the shortened stanza. Jacksonville cut the lead to 10-8 off an attack error but that was as close as the Dolphin’s would come in a 15-8 decision.
The Miners return to action against Tulsa on Friday, Sept. 23 at Memorial Gym.