In what proved to be a tough match-up, UTEP fell short against Rice, 3-0 (25-20, 29-31, 13-25, 25-19, 15-11) on Sunday in Memorial Gym.
Junior Jeane Horton led the way posting a season-best with 23 kills and added three blocks (1s/2a) and two service aces against the Owls. UTEP had two Miners record double-double performances on Sunday. Xitlali Herrea pounded 13 kills, 19 digs, five blocks (1s/4a) and three service aces as she led UTEP’s defense. Setter Malia Patterson tallied 52 assists, 11 digs, three kills and two block assists. Senior Cassandra Burruel recorded a double-digit kill showing with 10.
The Miners registered 67 kills, 64 assists, 74 digs and out blocked the Owls with nine total team blocks, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Owls, who posted a .210 hitting percentage.
UTEP came out strong in the first set, running out to a 4-1 advantage off a kill by Herrera. The Miners maintained the lead until three consecutive strikes by the Owls tied the frame at 8-8, forcing UTEP to call a timeout. Both teams would battle for control of the stanza, until the Miners struck with a 4-1 run with a block by Herrera to tie the frame once again at 13-13. Rice was unable to stop the Miners attack as UTEP stormed out with a 5-1 run with Horton leading the way at the service line to give the Miners a two-point advantage. UTEP did not slow down recording three straight points sending the Owls to the bench one more time, 21-17. The Miners claimed the set 25-20 with a 4-2 run led by Herrera with two final kills.
The second set was filled with action as it saw 15 ties and five lead changes. The frame began much like the first, as UTEP held a 6-2 advantage with a 4-1 run with the help of Horton who registered a pair of kills and a block assists by Patterson and Cassandra Burruel. Rice would not go away so easy as they responded with a 7-2 run giving the Owls a one point edge. The squads would go back and forward until UTEP took a two-point advantage with a kill by Herrera and a pair block by Horton and Herrera. The Miners continued with the momentum and recorded a 4-1 run forcing Rice to commit three consecutive errors. Both teams would trade points until Rice’s Nancy Cole posted back-to-back kills to put the Owls within one at 22-21. The Miners earned the first set point of the stanza with a kill by Patterson at 24-22, but Rice would fight back to score two more points tying the frame. Both teams would switch points and a block assists by Horton and Burruel gave UTEP a point edge at 27-26. The Owls would not go way scoring two points to send the Miners to the bench at 28-29. UTEP would come back to score one more point with a kill by Cason, but two Rice kills would close the set at 31-29.
Rice took an early 6-3 lead at the beginning of the third set forcing UTEP to call an early timeout. The Miners were able to regroup and put together a 4-2 run with Horton leading the way with two kills and a service ace. The Owls came back and took off with an 8-2 run taking a 16-9 lead. UTEP was not able to stop Rice’s attack and Burruel would score two consecutive kills, but it wasn’t enough to build the momentum, as Rice took the third set 25-13.
UTEP stormed out to a 7-3 advantage led by the Miners attack with a pair of kills by Burruel and one by Herrera, Cason and Horton. Burruel would strike again with a kill and two attack errors by Cole would extend UTEP’s lead by six. Rice tried to pick up the pace but the Miners posted a 5-1 run to pull ahead, 16-10. Burrruel was on a role as she hammered three more kills to give UTEP a 20-14 advantage in the stanza. The Owls were not able to stop the Miners drive, as Horton would seal the frame with a kill, 25-19.
Rice took a 4-1 lead at the start of the final set of the match, sending the Miners to the bench in order to regroup. UTEP came out of the brake with a 3-1 run led by Horton, who posted a pair of kills. The Miners would tie the stanza with back-to-back kills by Horton and Bridget Logan. UTEP began to pick up the momentum, scoring three consecutive points off a kill by Logan, a kill by Herrera, followed by a block assists by Herrera and Cason. The squad would trade points until back-to-back UTEP attack errors gave the Owls a one-point advantage. Logan would strike with one last kill, until Rice scored the final four points to close the match at 15-11.
The Miners will have a few days off to prepare as they take on Tulane, for the second time this season, on Oct. 28 at Memorial Gym at 12 p.m.