HAMMOND, Louisiana (KVIA) -- The UTEP volleyball team (3-0) knocked off host Southeastern Louisiana, 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22) to win the 2023 Southeastern Showdown Saturday afternoon and secure its second tournament crown since the 2021 season.
"I'm really pleased with our weekend overall," head coach Ben Wallis said. "There are things about our play that that I am already starting to notice that is becoming more of an identity for us. In three matches in this young season, we are a really physical, high scoring, high flying, tough defensive team and that's really cool and exciting to see a new identity starts to take shape for this team as opposed to last year and potentially even the year before when it comes to the style of volleyball we want to play or even the personnel on the floor."
Southeastern Louisiana held a 15-0 record at home before falling to the Washington Huskies in four sets Friday evening and again to the UTEP Miners to conclude the Southeastern Showdown on Saturday.
"It's exciting to see some really neat, cool things come out of three tough matches," Wallis said. "To be able to come into a place that Southeastern Louisiana did not lose at all last year at home and to be able to get them on their home floor in front of their home crowd, in the marquee matchup on Saturday to wrap up the tournament that is a good win for us."
UTEP's Torrance Lovesee recorded the first double-double of the season as she paced the squad with a match-high 19 kills and career-best 11 digs. Kalia Kohler and Hande Yetis teamed up for 49 assists and four kills, (Kohler-1, Yetis-3). Kaya Weaver posted two career-bests with four aces and four digs. Sara Pustahija matched her career-high of six blocks.
UTEP held the all-around statistical advantage in kills (58-49), blocks (10-8), hitting percentage (.302 - .225), and service aces (11-6).
"We really jumped on them physically and the first two sets and we're really having our way with them, Wallis said. "And then they (SEL) decided, like a conference champion does, to kick it up a notch and they started pressuring us more from the service line. They punched us a little bit and we were a little bloody lip. And we figured out how to, you know, get back in the third set. At one point, we battled back and blew a couple defensive assignments, but we were good enough at the end of the fourth set to wrap up a tough hard-fought match. "
UTEP returns to action as it hosts the Borderland Invitational Aug. 31-Sep. 2.
The Miners face San Francisco at 6 p.m. MT Thursday (Aug. 31) in their "915" home opener. Tickets start at $8 and can be purchased through the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, 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).