El Paso, TX — The UTEP volleyball team returns to Memorial Gym this weekend as it sets to open its 2013 home season with the UTEP Invitational on Friday against southern at 12 p.m.(MT) and Oral Roberts at 7 p.m. UTEP will wrap up the tournament against Texas southern at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Gym.
The tournament will also serve as the home debut of head coach holly Watts, who comes from Florida State where she led her to team to four NCAA tournament appearances.
UTEP went 0-3 this past weekend, falling to San Diego, no. 11 Hawai’i and no. 1 Texas. Xitlali Herrera who earned a spot on the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational All- Tournament Team hammered 29 kills and five blocks to lead the Miners. Malia Patterson help set the Miners’ attack in all three games tallying a total of 72 assists, while Victoria Valencia delivered 33 digs.
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Southern Scouting Report
Series: UTEP has control of the short series, leading 1-0. The last meeting between the two squads was in 2011, which was a 3-0 victory for the Miners. Malia Patterson led UTEP with a double- double performance as she tallied 31 assists and 10 digs. Middle blocker Xitlali Herrera registered 11 kills against the Jaguars. The Miners rounded out their win against southern with a team total of 48 digs.
Leading southern University on the court is setter Phalen Clark. In the Jaguars’ season opener Clark hammered out 9 kills against Prairie View A&M (8/30). The freshman then earned double figures with 12 kills, 15 assists and seven digs in Southern’s match against Texas southern (8/30).
Oral Roberts Scouting Report
Series: UTEP comes into the weekend with a 9-8 advantage against Oral Roberts. The last time the squads met, the Golden Eagles beat the Miners, 3-0 at the sun Bowl Invitational. Oral Roberts was slightly better on the serve, recording nine aces to UTEP’s four. The Golden Eagles tallied eight more blocks than UTEP, taking the match.
In 2012, Oral Roberts delivered a 17-15 record with an 11-7 record in southland Conference play. For 2013, the Golden Eagles are returning four starters and eight letterwinners, as well as six newcomers. The southland Conference Preseason Polls picked Oral Roberts to finish second in the league.
Golden Eagle Notables
Leading the defensive effort for Oral Roberts is two-time Conference Player of the Year Bruna Silva. In 2012, the senior earned SLC Libero of the Year honors after leading the league with 5.22 digs per set. The defensive specialists earned 2011 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore as she ranked 13th in the nation with 5.66 digs per set. Silva was also selected to the Preseason all-SLC First Team.
Also adding to ORU’s strength is setter Laura Taylor and newcomer Sara Pope. Taylor joins Silva in the Preseason all-SLC first team, as she ranked fifth in the conference with 11.89 assists per game, and sixth with a .303 hitting percentage. a junior transfer, Pope has exploded onto the scene blasting 19 kills without committing an error in the Golden Eagles’ season opener against Texas southern (08/30/13).
Texas Southern Scouting Report
Series: The Miners hold a 5-0 edge over the Tigers since their first meeting in 1992. The last time the teams met, UTEP defeated TSU, 3-0. In that meeting, the Orange and Blue dominated offensively with a total of 35 kills to TSU’s 18.
In 2012, the Tigers finished the season 15-13, averaging 1,062 kills and 173.5 blocks. Before the start of the 2013 season, the conference coaches and sports information directors predicted TSU to finish second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Tigers have since opened the season 2-1, beating out southern (3-1) and Prairie View A&M (3-0).
TSU’s offensive strength is led by outside hitter Robyn Shannon. During the 2012 campaign, Shannon was selected SWAC Freshman of the Year as she finished second in the league in hitting percentage (.286). The sophomore led the Tigers in kills (320) averaging 3.02 per game. Shannon was also selected to the all-SWAC second team.
Mona Reed who was selected to the all- SWAC First Team and Veronica Azubike who was selected to the all-SWAC second team rounded out TSU’s all-SWAC honors. Reed finished 2013 with 264 kills while Azubike finished with 17 single blocks and 49 assisted blocks.
The Watts Era
After opening on the road, holly Watts is ready for her first home game as UTEP’s new head volleyball coach.
Watts, who played for Texas from 1989- 1993, brings 19 years of Division I coaching experience to the Miners, including lengthy stints at Arkansas (1996-2008) and Florida state University (2008-13), where she worked with head coach Chris Poole.
Together Poole and Watts were instrumental in producing thirteen 20-win seasons in 17 years, with 13 NCAA Tournament appearances during that span.
Aside from being selected to the 2013 Conference USA Preseason Volleyball team, Xitlali Herrera was the only middle blocker selected to the 2013 Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational all-Tournament Team.
The senior led the UTEP offensive attack with 29 kills with only eight errors in the Miners’ three matches against san Diego, no.11 Hawaii and no. 1 Texas. Herrera also posted 24 digs and five block assists over the weekend.
Last season, Herrera joined former UTEP outside hitter, Michelle Stovall (1983 and 1984) as one of only two Miners in the program’s history to earn a spot on the AVCA All-American honorable Mention team.
The middle blocker also became the second Miner to earn back-to-back all-C-USA First- Team honors and be named to the ACVA all- Midwest Region First Team.
Setting Up For Success
In 2012, senior Malia Patterson totaled 1,177 assists for the Miners, and in UTEP’s season opener she proved that she is ready to dominate the court.
The senior registered a total 72 assists over the weekend for the Orange and Blue in matches against San Diego and nationally ranked Texas (1) and Hawaii (11). Patterson’s stellar performance against some of the top teams in the nation ranked her 11th in conference for assists (per set).
The setter dominated the court in the Miners’ first match against San Diego where she led the game with 34 assists. Patterson finished out the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational strong registering 18 assists against Texas and 20 against Hawai’i.
Strong Home Stand
After a struggle on the road at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, the Miners are looking to bounce back with a successful weekend at home as the Orange and Blue hosts the UTEP Invitational.
In 2011, the Miners held a 10-4 record at home including a 3-0 win over southern. In 2012 UTEP held an 8-4 record. The Miners have an overall record of 73-47 in Memorial gym and will work hard to continue UTEP’s success at home.