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El Paso, TX — Head coach Holly Watts and the UTEP volleyball team kicked off the 2014 season with their first official practice on Saturday, August 9th.
“Right now we are working all aspects of the game but we’re especially working on team chemistry,” Watts said. “With six new players on our roster we really want the team to be able to move as a cohesive unit.”
Last season, the Miners had an overall finish of 14-16, and finished ninth in Conference USA with a record of 7-7.
In 2014, UTEP adds six freshmen while returning nine letter winners. Among those players are outside hitters, Talia Jones and Jaqueline Cason.
One of four juniors on the team, Jones was tabbed to the 2014 Conference USA Preseason team as voted by the league's 15 head coaches.
In 2013, the Arizona native ranked first on the team and fourth in C-USA in service aces with an average 0.37 per set. With a season total of 33 aces, the junior ranks sixth in program history.
A resilient force on UTEP's frontcourt, Jones also registered 20 matches with 10 or more kills placing her second on the squad (333). She recorded a career high .471 attack percentage against North Texas with only two errors. Seeing action in 106 sets, She also finished second on the team in points with 382.5 including a career-best 19.5 points versus LA Tech (9/27/13).
A redshirt senior, Cason is ready to get back out on the court after suffering a shoulder injury last year.
In 2012, Cason saw action in 109 sets. She ranked third on the team in points and kills, contributing 268.5 points and 224 kills for the Orange and Blue.
Cason also delivered six matches with 10 or more kills. She held a season best performance against Belmont as she registered a .600 hitting percentage with 12 kills and zero errors (8/31/12).
With two-a-days underway, the Miners take their training to Cloudcroft, New Mexico for three days. From August 10-12, the team will prepare for its upcoming 30-match season as well as hold a clinic for the local Cloudcroft High School volleyball team.
The team is slated to start the 2014 season with tournament play in the Lobo Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., on Aug. 29-30, where they will face off against No. 1 Texas, Seattle, and UNM.
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