HAMMOND, Indiana (KVIA) -- The UTEP volleyball team (2-0) conquered Friday's double header with a victory over nearly-ranked Pac-12 foe Washington, 3-2, and swept Grambling State, 3-0, at the Southeastern Showdown.
UTEP has had three Power 5 wins since the start of the 2021 season including Friday's victory against Washington. In the previous 26 years, UTEP accumulated four wins against Power 5 opponents.
"Obviously we're really excited to be able to start the season off with a big win over a good opponent who went to the NCAA tournament last year," head coach Ben Wallis said. "We did not expect to walk out and for it to be easy. We also didn't expect to walk out and get rolled either because we are a good team and we're complete in many ways when we're intentional and when we got our brains in the right place."
UTEP 3, (RV) Washington 2
The UTEP volleyball team topped the Huskies, 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 15-9) at the Southeastern Showdown Friday.
UTEP had three players reach double-digits in kills, graduate student Alianza Darley (15), sophomore Kaya Weaver (11) and junior Torrance Lovesee (10). Freshman Kalia Kohler (24) and senior Hande Yetis (23) combined to put up 47 assists and senior Alyssa Sianez had a match-high 30 digs, just one dig away from matching her career high of 31.
UTEP's all-around performance held the statistical advantage in kills (63-53), blocks (13-9), hitting percentage (.228 - .147), but were out hit in service aces (6-9).
"We're a really good defensive team when we want to be," Wallis said. "We're a really good blocking team and we want to be. And that showed itself this morning when we played a really good Washington team. And so, you know, we were able to jump on them defensively in blocking it. And then we just found a way at the end of the first and the fourth set that just to kind of do too many uncharacteristic things and that's kind of what happens in the first match of the year."
UTEP 3, GSU 0
UTEP blanked the Tigers, 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-16) at the Southeastern Showdown Friday.
Sophomore Sara Pustahija led the team with nine kills while Kohler and Yetis put up 35 assists together. Four Miners tacked on two aces each, Kohler, Sianez, Pustahija and Madison Hill. Sianez recorded 14 digs as well.
UTEP held the statistical advantage in kills (42-29), service aces (10-4), hitting percentage (.311 - .122), but were out-blocked (5-4).
"We you know, we got some young players in, and we just didn't play as hard," Wallis said. "But we found a way to kind of kick it into high gear when we needed to. Our setters did some good stuff throughout the day, and it was really a good complete win for everyone."
UTEP will take aim at becoming tournament champions of the SELA Tournament when it locks up with host Southeastern Louisiana at 12:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Aug. 26. There will be live stats for the match and there will also be a live stream on ESPN+ for the contest against the Lady Lions.