UTEP Volleyball Opens C-USA Slate at UCF
Sept. 15, 2011
The Miners open Conference USA action Friday, Sept. 16 when they head to Orlando, Fla. to take on UCF in the Towne Place Suits/UCF Challenge.
Florida International and Jacksonville will also take part in the tournament.
The Miners (9-3) are led by senior Stephanie Figueroa who was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Figueroa has posted a team-best 227 digs and ranks sixth nationally in aces per set (0.67). Figueroa is ranked second on the squad in assists with 48. Offensively, junior Bridget Logan has come out firing, registering 153 kills, 20 digs, 24 blocks (6s/18a).
MINERS ON THE WEB
All matches from the Towne Place Suite/UCF Challenge will be broadcast live via livestats at www.ucfathletics.cstv.com.
UTEP returns to the friendly confines of Memorial Gym on Friday, Sept. 23 to take on defending C-USA champions, Tulsa, in its C-USA home opener of the 2011 season.
The Miners will take on SMU on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 12 p.m. in Memorial Gym.
SERIES RECORD: The series is tied 4-4. The Knights have won the last four meetings since UTEP upset UCf, 3-1, in Memorial Gym on October 21, 2007.
UCF returned eight letterwinners, including six starters, from its 2010 squad. The Knights moved to 8-2 on the season after riding a six-match win streak. Included in the streak was a 3-0 sweep of then no. 3 USC. UCF fell to South Florida, 3-1, last weekend to take second in their own Residence Inn/UCF Invitational. UCF’s only other loss came at the hands of Michigan State (8/26) earlier in the season. The Knights are paced by two-time C-USA Setter of the Week, Rachel Vukson, who is averaging 12.62 assists per set. On the offensive end is sophomore hitter Angelica Crump who has collected 141 kills for 2011. Junior libero Meredith Murphy leads the Knights on the defensive end, registering 145 digs.
THE LAST TIME
The Miners closed out their 2010 season with a 3-0 loss UCF in Orlando, Fla. Cassandra Burruel hammered a team-best nine kills and put up three blocks (1bs/2ba). Libero Stephanie Figueroa tallied 10 digs ending the season with 476 to rank third in the UTEP recordbooks. The Miners had trouble holding off Kristin Fisher who posted 16 kills for the Knights. Burruel registered a match-high .571 efficiency. UCF combined for 46 kills to UTEP’s 30.
SERIES RECORD: First meeting.
Jacksonville is 6-8 going into this weekend’s tournament. Sophomore Taylor Nyquist currently leads JU with 117 kills and senior Alliya Drzewiecki is second with 110. Junior Alison Loeppky has recorded 31 blocks followed by sophomore Kylie Jacob with 30 and averaging a hitting percentage of .375 (78-18-160).
SERIES RECORD: First meeting.
FIU heads into this weekend’s action, 6-3. The Panthers have tallied 73 total blocks across 32 sets for a 2.28 blocks per set mark, an average which ranks third in the Sun Belt Conference. Leading FIU is junior Jovana Bjelica who is ranked among the nation’s elite with a kills-per- set mark of 4.28 ranking 29th in the country.
The Miners have been stellar in 2011. UTEP holds national top-50 statistical rankings in match W-L percentage (32nd, .818), hitting percentage (34th, 0.262,) kills per set (38th, 13.87), assists per set (38th, 12.97 and blocks per set (35th, 2.47).
Individually, senior Figueroa is sixth in aces per set (0.67) and 18th in digs per set (5.33); sophomore Xitlali Herrera is 13th in blocks per set (1.49) and 78th in hitting percentage (0.361); sophomore Malia Patterson is 55th in assists per set (10.56); junior Bridget Logan is 78th in kills per set (3.76).
MINERS IN CONFERENCE OPENERS
The Miners are 10-18 in conference openers and are 4-6 in the league road starters. Former coach Norm Brandl started 1-0 in conference play six times in his 22-year career (1976, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1996, 1998).
OFF TO A GOOD START
With its 9-3 start, UTEP has been quite successful in putting away its opponents. Seven of the nine victories have been 3-0 sweeps with two contests coming in the 3-1 fashion. The Miners are 11-1 in the first set and are 9-3 in the second and third frame. UTEP has outscored its opponents in the first set, 304-222 (82). The Miners have scored 285-245 (52) in the second and 283-245 (38) in the third set to out score their opponents.
RANKING IN BLOCKS
The Miners are in chase of breaking last years record of 266.5 total blocks (39s/455a) already compilling 104.5 (16bs/177a). UTEP currently ranks 45th nationally and second in C-USA in blocks. Xitlali Herrera leads the way for the Miners talling 61 blocks (5s/56a) to rank 13th nationally and first in the league.
Xitlali Herrera has become the “net factor” in blocks for the Miners. UTEP has always been a force at the net, ranking in the top-50 nationally over the past three seasons. However, Herrera has proven herself, ranking first on the team and in Conference USA in blocks per set, averaging 1.45. The sophomore transfer has put up 61 total blocks (5s/56a), which are 12 more than UAB’s Sam Serley who ranks no. 2 on the league’s leaderboard. Herrera’s blocks doubles that of her teammate, Taylor Nix, who ranks second on the squad with 39. Herrera is the only Miner to average over one block per set.
Xitlali Herrera is on pace to not only crack UTEP’s season assists block charts, but she is also on pace to take the top spot, a record that has been held since 1997. Herrera has already put up 56 block assists in 2011 after just 12 matches. She is chasing Jacqui Nosan’s (1998-2001) 103 recorded in 2000. Cynthia Ruelas-Macias (1993-94, 96-97) holds the top four spots on the charts with a season best 122 in 1993 and 1997. Herrera needs just 56 assists to crack the leaderboard.
X MARKS THE SPOT
Herrera posted a career-high 15 kills to mark her first double-double of the season against Baylor. The sophomore registered 13 digs and four block assists against the Bears at the MCM Elegante Invitational. She is currently ranked 13th in the league for kills and 10th in attack percentage of .361. Herrera is ranked second on the squad in kills with 117 kills.
FOUR TIME ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Stephanie Figueroa has picked up where she left off a season ago. Figueroa was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 12. This is the fourth career honor for the senior and her second this season. The libero recorded a career-high 31 digs against Baylor and was selected to the MCM Elegante Invitational All-Tournament team. The Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico native dominates defensively averaging 5.40 digs per set to rank second in the league for digs. Figueroa has posted double-digit dig performances in 10 of the 12 contests this season including nine matches with 15 or more digs.
ACE OF A PLAYER
Not only is Figueroa protecting the backcourt, but the libero knows how to serve up some points for the Miners too. Figueroa leads UTEP in aces with 26 through 12 matches played. The feat ranks sixth nationally, first on the team and first in Conference USA standings with .67 aces per set. The mark also surpasses her total career aces at UTEP, having only mastered 15 aces in 2010. The Puerto Rican native needs 17 aces to rank in the Miners’ recordbooks, a goal she can reach with 21 matches still to play.
TRACKING THE ACE CARD
Stephanie Figueroa is on top of her game at the service line. She is averaging .62 aces per set, which ranks sixth nationally, first on the team and in Conference USA. If Figueroa remains consistent through the remainder of the season, Figueroa’s numbers will almost double that of Catherine Porter (1996-98, 2000) who ranks first in UTEP’s records for season aces per match (.49), a record that has stood since 1996.
BRIDGET KNOWS BEST
Bridget Logan has made her mark at UTEP leading the Miners’ offensive unit. Logan ranks first on the team and fifth in the league in kills with 153 and is one of two players on the squad to average over three kills per set with 3.73. The junior outside has blasted eight double-digit kill performances so far in 2011 after having six matches in double figures a year ago.
SETTING THE COURT STRAIGHT
Sophomore setter, Malia Patterson registered a season-high performance at the MCM Elegante Invitational against Mississippi State with 51 assists. The sophomore averages 10.50 assists per set. Patterson is not just good at signal calling but is also just as effective on defense too. The setter ranks second on the squad in digs with 96 (2.29/s) in 2011, to register four double-doubles in 2011.
MOVE TO MIDDLE
M.T. Joyce has made a move after three years from outside hitter to middle blocker for the Miners. Th senior has turned heads already breaking her season record of 70 kills and 73 digs. She has already posted 81 kills and 94 digs before even kicking off the Conference USA slate.