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One-on-one with UTEP’s Ben Wallis; Miners prepare for Thursday’s volleyball home opener

EL PASO, Texas - The Borderland Invitational is up next for the UTEP Volleyball team (2-1) as they play their home opener with matchups against New Mexico (2-0) at 6 p.m. MT Thursday (Sep.1), Portland State (1-2) at 7 p.m. MT Friday (Sep. 2) and South Dakota (2-1) at 10:30 a.m. MT Saturday (Sep. 3) in Memorial Gym. Thursday’s “915 Game” will be an ‘Orange Out.’ 
  
Tickets start at $8 and can be purchased through the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing tickets@utep.edu, visiting www.UTEPMiners.com/Tickets or in person at 201 Glory Road (Brumbelow Building, UTEP campus) Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Season tickets are also still on sale.

Group tickets are also available for $5 (minimum of 10 tickets). 
  
There will be live stats throughout the entire tournament. 

All three UTEP matches will be broadcast on CUSA.tv. 

Thursday, Sep. 1 

6 p.m. - UTEP vs. New Mexico | Stream: CUSA.tv | Live Stats | 915 Game 

Friday, Sep. 2 

7 p.m. - UTEP vs. Portland State | Stream: CUSA.tv | Live Stats 

Saturday, Sep. 3 

10:30 a.m. - UTEP vs. South Dakota | Stream: CUSA.tv | Live Stats 

^All Times Mountain 

See the full tournament schedule here
 

“All four teams in this tournament are 20-win teams,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “Every single one of them are good top-100 teams. It’s going to be a gauntlet and you’re going to see some really good volleyball this weekend in our gym. Everybody is good and capable of beating each other. Any combination of things that can happen this weekend are going to make us better and they’re all going to test us. We have a young and talented group that just needs experience, but we also have a lot of pieces to the puzzle.” 

Hitting with Consistency 

UTEP hit an outstanding .316 against Pacific. Three Miners are swinging better than .250 after three matches. Marian Ovalle (.286) leads the team among players with at least 20 kills. 

Block Party 
The Miners registered a season-high 14 blocks in the 3-2 win against Northeastern on Aug. 26. UTEP posted at least 10 blocks in its two victories (Northeastern and Pacific) to kick off the season, and the squad was one block short of hitting double-digit blocks against Northwestern. Alianza Darley (16), Vittoria Price (10) and Sara Pustahija (10) each tallied at least 10 blocks to lead the charge. 

   
Miner Rankings 
In Conference USA, UTEP is ranked in the top three in four different categories: 
2. Team Total Blocks (33.0, 15th NCAA) 

3. Team Service Aces (24, 29th NCAA) 

3. Team Digs (176, 63rd NCAA) 

3. Team Kills (147, 91st NCAA) 

 
UTEP has three players ranked in the top ten in five different categories in the conference: Alianza Darley is ranked in two categories, second in total blocks (16) and third in blocks per set (1.32), Serena Patterson is ranked in two categories, fourth in points (47.5) and total kills (41), and Hula Crisostomo is ranked tenth in total digs (39). 
  
Achievement Unlocked 

Serena Patterson becomes the 11th Miner in program history to achieve 1,000 career kills. She currently ranks 10th on the list (1,007) just out-hitting Macey Austin (1,005, 2016-18), and will end this season higher on that list. 

 
Accolades Pour In 
UTEP's Serena Patterson and Hula Crisostomo were named to the All-Tournament team at the 2022 Northwestern Tournament. Then on Aug. 29, Sara Pustahija was voted as the C-USA Volleyball Freshman of the Week. She became the third Miner to earn the league's Freshman of the Week honor, with teammate Ema Uskokovic last taking home the honor on Sep. 13, 2021. 
  
Balanced Attack 
UTEP showed a balanced attack at the Northwestern Tournament, with three different Miners blasting home at least 2.0 kills pet set. Serena Patterson (41 kills, 3.15 kills/set) led the way, with Marian Ovalle (23 kills, 2.30 kills/set), and Sara Pustahija (26 kills, 2.00 kills/set) getting after it as well. 

 
Scouting New Mexico 
New Mexico is undefeated on the year, entering this weekend at 2-0. Both wins went to four sets, with each of the victories coming at home. The Lobos are hitting .201 as a team, and five different players have at least 10 kills. Uxue Guereca easily leads the way with 33 kills (4.125 kills/set). Anilee Sher directs the offense with 76 assists (9.5 assists/set). Alena Moldan sets the tone defensively with 48 digs (6.0 digs/set). 
  
The Series vs. New Mexico 
UTEP is 8-36 against New Mexico, including most recently a 3-0 setback at the 2017 edition of the Borderland Invitational. The Miners secured the first ever meeting between the programs way back in 1975. 
  
Scouting Portland State 
Portland State is 1-2 on the year after playing its first nonconference matches since versus Long Beach State, Oregon State, and #18 Oregon. Four different players have produced at least 10 kills for Portland State, with Makayla Lewis leading the squad with 37 kills (3.36 kills/set). Madison Friebel quarterbacks the offense with 67 assists (6.09 assists/set), while four different players have amassed between 20-40 digs on the season. 
  
The Series vs. Portland State 
UTEP is 2-3 against Portland State, including most recently a 3-1 Miner victory last season at the Portland State Tournament. The Miners secured the first ever meeting between the programs 20 years ago on Aug 31, 2002. 

  
Scouting South Dakota 
South Dakota is 2-1 on the year, with the lone loss coming via a sweep to #4 Louisville. The Coyotes are led offensively by Elizabeth Juhnke (51 kills, 4.64 kills/set), while Brooklyn Schram (103 assists, 9.36 assists/set) directs the offense. Schram (39digs, 3.55 digs/set) and Lolo Weideman (38 digs, 3.45 digs/set) have been the catalysts for digs. 
  
The Series vs. South Dakota 
Saturday’s match marks the first meeting between UTEP and South Dakota. 

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