Miners Set to Open 2013 Season

Malia Patterson

Aug 28, 2013

The UTEP volleyball team will open up the 2013 season by competing at the Cheveron Rainbow Wahine Invitational on Friday, Aug. 30- Sept. 1 in Honolulu Hawaii.

The tournament will also serve as the debut of head coach Holly Watts, who comes from Florida State where she led her to team to four NCAA tournament appearances. The Miners will open up against San Diego on Friday at 9 p.m. MT. The squad will challenge defending national champion Texas on Saturday at 3 p.m. They will wrap up the event against host and preseason ranked No. 11 Hawaii on Sunday at 12 a.m.

UTEP returns three starters and seven letterwinners overall from the 2012 squad (16-13, 10-6 Conference USA). Highlighting the returnees are 2012 All-C-USA performers and seniors Xitlali Herrera and Malia Patterson.

For live stats please visit: http://hawaiiathletics.com

San Diego Scouting Report

San Diego has made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances including two Sweet 16 appearances (2004, 2006). The Toreros finished 2012 with 21-7 record and captured a share of the 2012 WCC Championship. San Diego earned an at-large bid into the 2012 NCAA Tournament where they fell to Michigan State 3-2. The Toreros notched a late-season victory over No. 13 BYU to earn a share of the conference title. San Diego also defeated Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara – all who earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Series: This will be the first meeting between the Miners and Toreros. The two programs will open up against each other at the 2013 Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu, Hawai’i.




Toreros Notables

Leading the charge for San Diego is Katie Hoekman, who was named first-team All-West Coast Conference. Hoekman’s efforts helped the squad capture the 2012 WCC Championship title and earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The senior led the squad in kills (294) and blocks (123). The middle blocker recorded double-digit kills in 14 matches during 2012. Hoekman finished second in the conference in hitting percentage (.389), which earned her a spot on the 2013 Preseason All-WCC Team. Chloe Ferrari produced a stellar season as she was named to the first-team All-WCC. The senior produced 237 kills, and a hitting efficiency of .367 ranking fifth in conference. She was also third on the team in total blocks (51). Ferrari also earned a spot on the 2013 Preseason All-West Coast Team. Also contributing to the squad is Alaysia Brown. The junior ranked second on the team in kills (280) and blocks (71). Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-WCC Honorable Mention team.

Texas Scouting Report

Series: Texas secured the 2012 NCAA championship title as it beat Oregon 3-0, earning the program’s third national title, since 1988. The defending national champions concluded their fall season 31-4 with 22 home wins. Texas has won all three match ups against UTEP. The last time the squads squared off was in 2002 when the Longhorns beat the Miners 3-0, compiling 36 kills, 35 digs and a hitting percentage of .132.

Longhorn Notables

Leading the Texas reign is outside hitter Haley Eckerman. The junior earned many honors during the 2012 season including Big 12 Player of the Year, Volleyball Magazine National Co-Player of the Year and AVCA All-America First-Team honors. She was also named 2012 COBRA Magazine National Player of the Year after leading the Longhorns to a 29-4 overall record. Eckerman led Texas with 504 kill, 42 aces , 234 digs , 47 blocks  and 575.0 points . Also bringing All-American first team honors to the Longhorns is senior Bailey Webster.  The outside hitter was named as the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, as she registered a team-high 14 kills while hitting .500 in the national championship match.  She concluded the season ranked second on the team with 435 kills while hitting .354 for the season and 89 blocks added.

Hawai’i Scouting Report

Hawai’i comes into the matchup ranked 11th in the country according to the 2013 AVCA coaches preseason poll. Last season the Rainbow Warriors earned a bid to the 2013 NCAA tournament after wrapping up a perfect season in the Big West Conference (18-0) scoring the Rainbow Warriors their 18th straight conference title. Hawaii made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament and was ousted by the Washington Huskies, ending their season 27-3 overall.

Series: The Rainbow Warriors hold a 10-0 edge over the Miners since their last meeting in 2004. The last time the two squads met the crowd witnessed seven lead changes, as the Miners kept up with Hawaii’s pace. The Rainbow Warriors eventually solidified their lead, posting 34 kills, and 44 digs beating the Miners 3-0.

Rainbow Warrior Notables

Hawaii’s success starts with All-American first team honoree, Emily Hartong. The outside hitter, who was named to the 2012 AVCA All-Region team, was recognized on Oct. 30th as the 2012 AVCA National Player of the Week, becoming the first Rainbow Wahine player to receive the award since 2006. Last season, Hartong ranked in the top 10 nationally in kills (4.66 k/s) and points (5.29 p/s) and concluded the season collecting four Big West Player of the Week awards. She finished the 2012 campaign registering 527 kills, 76 blocks, and a hitting percentage of .286. Also receiving All-American Honorable Mention honors for Hawaii last season is setter Mita Uiato. Uiato earned a bid on the All-Big West first team, finishing first in assists (1,180) in the league (10.26).

The Watts Era

A new era of Miner volleyball begins as Holly Watts was named the new head volleyball for UTEP. Watts, who played for Texas from 1989-1993, brings 19 years of Division I coaching experience to the Miners, including lengthy stints at Arkansas (1996-2008) and Florida State University (2008-13), where she worked with head coach Chris Poole.

Together Poole and Watts were instrumental in producing thirteen 20-win seasons in 17 years, with 13 NCAA Tournament appearances during that span.

Preseason Pick

For a second straight year, the league’s 15 head coaches have selected senior Xitlali Herrera to be a part of the 2013 Conference USA Preseason Volleyball team.

Dominating the 2012 campaign, Herrera registered 10 double-doubles, including an impressive 17 kills and 15 digs against Tulsa (10/12) where she led the squad’s defense and offense.

The Juarez, Mexico, native went on to match her career-high of 20 kills against Arkansas (9/8), recording a hitting percentage of .485. As an all around-competitor, the middle blocker commanded UTEP’s frontcourt starting in all 29 matches last season, and becoming the only C-USA middle blocker who plays all six rotations.

Senior Standouts

The 2013 season will be one for the seniors as four veterans return for their final season with the Miners. Jacqueline Cason, Malia Patterson, and Victoria Valencia will join All-American, Xitlali Herrera in leading UTEP on the court.

Last year, Cason ranked third on the team with 224 kills (2.06 kills per set), while her hitting percentage (.250) ranked 15th in the conference. The senior opened the 2012 season with a 13-kill performance versus Fresno State (8/24). Cason had her best overall performance in a win over Belmont (8/31) as she produced 12 kills, three block assists, a hitting efficiency of .600 and zero errors.

Patterson led the Orange and Blue during the 2012 season in assists with 1,177. The senior ranked 57th nationally and second in the league in assists per set (10.80). Patterson registered 10 double-doubles, including 52 assists and 15 digs in a win over Tulsa (11/4) and tallied a season-high 56 assists during a victory over I-10 rival NM State.

Valencia led the Miners in digs (377) and service aces (26), as she ranked 12th in the league in both categories. The senior set a career-high of 22 digs versus Arizona State last year.

Veteran Herrera registered 10 double-doubles last season for UTEP, including an impressive 17 kills and 15 digs versus Tulsa where she led the squad’s defense and offense. The middle blocker has earned three spots in the UTEP recordbook for hitting percentage in three sets (.647-4th), hitting percentage in four sets (.556-3rd) and (.542-4th).

In the 2012 campaign Herrera was named C-USA Defensive and Offensive Player of the Week and received C-USA All-Academic honors. The senior concluded the season, as she became the second Miner in program history to earn back-to-back All-C-USA first team honors and be named to the All-Region team.


Last season, Herrera joined former UTEP outside hitter, Michelle Stovall (1983 and 1984) as one of only two Miners in the program’s history to earn a spot on the AVCA All-American Honorable Mention team. 

The middle blocker also became the second Miner to earn back-to-back All-C-USA First-Team honors and be named to the ACVA All-Midwest Region First Team.

She wrapped up the season ranking in four categories in C-USA: hitting percentage (.301, 6th), points (10th), blocks (109, 13th) and kills (333, 13th). The standout led the team in hitting percentage (.300), rated second on the team in kills (333), digs (290), blocks (101) and aces (20). She helped the Miners rank first in the league and 70th nationally in hitting efficiency (.236).

Double Trouble

Starting for the Miners since her freshman year, Malia Patterson has become a double-digit force for UTEP.

In 2012, the setter became the second Miner in program history to be named to the All-Conference USA second team. She ranked second in the league and 57th nationally in assists per set (10.80).

Patterson led the team in assists with 1,143 and helped the squad secure the No. 4 spot in C-USA in assists per set (12.20) .

The Hawaii native registered 10 double-doubles for UTEP, including a season-high 56 assists against I-10 rival NM State (9/26). She guided UTEP to rank first in the league and 62nd nationally in hitting percentage (.236).

Top Five Ranking

The Miners’ efforts in the 2012 campaign ranked UTEP nationally in the top 70 in two categories; hitting percentage (55th) and blocks per set (68th).

Expecting the Miners to once again find success on the court, the Conference USA preseason poll placed UTEP fifth out of 15 teams. The team concluded the 2012 campaign totaling, 1,444 kills, 1,330 assists, 1,518 digs and a hitting percentage of .236

A Fresh Start

After tearing her ACL before the 2012 season, setter Lindsey Larson was forced to redshirt. But having fully recovered, the newcomer is ready to set fire on the court.

The Canadian led Humboldt Collegiate Institute to the 2010 Provincial 4A Volleyball Championship title and a second-place finish in 2009. She was named the 2011 Lumsden Tournament Most Valuable Player and was selected to the 2010 Lumsden Tournament all-star team. Larson has also participated in the 2011 Kamloops Western Canada Summer Games where the team took bronze.

Backcourt Strength

UTEP has added some force on the backcourt, signing three defensive specialists. Junior transfer Dayana Acevedo, sophomore transfer Naomi Whitehair and freshman Sarah Villa have joined the Miners for 2013 season.

Acevedo was a dominant backcourt player for Iowa Western tallying a total of 1,418 total digs in two seasons. The junior earned multiple honors with the Reivers including: two-time NJCAA Division I All-American first team, two-time AVCA All-American first team, two-time All-Region first team and a two-time Academic All-Region first team recipient. In 2011, Acevedo led the team in digs with a total of 801 securing the No. 2 spot in the school recordbook for most digs in one season.

Whitehair started as a defensive specialist as a freshman for the New Mexico Military Institute. The transfer played in 130 sets and compiled 262 digs during the 2012 season. The defensive specialist ranked second on the team in receptions. In high school, Whitehair received multiple honors including being selected twice to the Arizona 3A North All-Region Team and once to the Arizona 3A All-State Team.

Villa registered seven 30 or more dig performances during her 2012 campaign. The libero received 2012 Class 4A All-State honors for the second straight seas¬¬on after collecting a total of 881 digs. Her efforts also earned her the 2012 All-City Defensive Player of the Year and the All-District 1-4A Outstanding Defensive Specialist.


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