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The UTEP volleyball team extended their win streak to five with a sweep of UAB on Friday night at Memorial Gym. The Miners improved to 9-7 for the season and 3-1 in league play.
“I don’t think it was our best game but we fought hard and we made a difference when it came down to the end,” said head coach Ken Murphy. “We talk about controlling our side of the net and playing hard so if we can keep being consistent we can continue winning.”
Junior Jeane Horton led the Miners with 15 kills and adding eight digs, while junior Xitlali Herrera matched a career-high .647 hitting percentage with 13 kills for the night. Herrera’s career high ranks fourth all-time in the UTEP recordbooks in hitting percentage in three sets.
Cassandra Burruel also recorded double-digit kills with 10 and registered eight blocks (2s/6a). Setter Malia Patterson attributed 36 assists for the Miners. As a team the Miners dominated the battle at the net with 11 total blocks to the Blazers’ five.
The Blazers held an early advantage jumping to a 6-2 early in the first set. After a UAB error, Horton and Burruel teamed up at the net to deny Rachel Fairbanks’ attack. Then it was all Burruel denying another Blazers attack to put the Miners within one. UAB responded with five-straight points before UTEP ended the rally on a back-to-back kills by Horton. Another block assist, this time by Burruel and Jacqueline Cason and a service ace by Patterson cut the UAB lead 11-9. The Blazers scored two more times before UTEP found their rhythm tying the game at 14. UAB once again rallied to create a 20-15 advantage, but the Miners, led by Herrera’s three kills and backed by a standing home crowd knotted the set once again at 21.
The teams traded points before kills by Burruel and Cason earned UTEP a win in the first frame.
The second set was close from the beginning with neither team developing much momentum to take a strong lead. UAB seemed to pull away halfway through the second set at 14-11, but three-straight kills at the hands of Burruel brought the Miners within one at 16-15. Knotted up at 19, the Miners capitalized off a Blazers service error that gave UTEP the momentum as Horton and Herrera continued their offensive attack. The Miners took the second set with kills by Horton and Cason to go up 2-0 into the break.
Much like the second set, the teams traded rallies before UTEP took a commanding 10-3 lead. The Miners grabbed its largest lead of the frame with a 10-4 run for a 13-point advantage. UAB closed the gap scoring four consecutive points forcing UTEP to a timeout at 21-12. The Miners allowed two more points but never looked back sweeping the Blazers 3-0 with a powerful kill courtesy of Cason.
UTEP will be back in action on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 12 p.m. In Memorial Gym as they look to extend their streak against Conference USA foe Memphis.
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