Bennett Shines, Ripple Named All-Tournament
The UTEP volleyball team dropped both ends of a twin bill Saturday at the Mean Green Classic in Denton, Texas, marking the first time since the 1999 season a Miner team has failed to win a match at a regular season tournament. With a 3-0 (30-27, 30-28, 30-16) loss to LSU and a 3-1 (27-30, 30-26, 31-29, 30-20) loss to Oral Roberts the Miners fall to 5-9 on the year.
UTEP won its only game of the tournament with a 30-27 game-one win over Oral Roberts. In the game the Miners recorded 18 kills and five blocks to the Golden Eagles 14 kills and three blocks.
Three Kari Stacy kills aided a 5-0 Miner run early in game two that gave UTEP a 9-8 lead. But ORU would answer with a 5-0 run of its own. Trailing 27-20, the Miners would make one last charge. By scoring six of the next seven points UTEP closed the gap to two, 28-26. But that would be as close as the Miners would get before falling, 30-26.
Game three would see the Miners overcome a 6-2 deficit with a 9-0 run. Leading 11-6, UTEP could not find the knockout blow as the Golden Eagles would make their way back into the match tying it up at 22-22. The Miners maintained the lead and was up, 27-25, late. Ties at 28- and 29-all would follow but in the end ORU would escape with the win.
The Miners would never rebound from the loss falling 30-20 in the finale.
Senior Brittney Bennett turned in the performance of her career against ORU. The Mesa, Ariz., native recorded a career-best in hitting percentage (.450), digs (7) and total blocks (9). Jennifer Abbruzzese finished the tournament with 35 kills leaving her eight shy of breaking the school record for career digs. Freshman Ashley Ripple was selected to the all-tournament team.
The first match of the day would see UTEP fall to LSU.
The Miners used tough serving to jump out to a 15-7 lead in the first game. LSU would battle back using a 12-3 run to take its first lead, 19-18. UTEP would take its final lead of the game at 22-21 before falling 30-27. For the game the Miners hit .293, while the Tigers hit .436.
Game two against the Tigers would be a tightly contested one. After allowing LSU to get out to an early lead, 5-1, UTEP would slowly make a charge back into the game. After recording five consecutive kills, the Miners took their first lead of the game, 23-22. With the scored tied 27-all, LSU would record back-to-back points. Bennett’s sixth kill of the day would pull the Miners back to within one, but that would be the end of the comeback as LSU took the game, 30-28. Both teams used precision attacking in the game as the two teams combined for 41 kills with just eight errors.
LSU would complete the sweep, 30-16, as it recorded 15 kills on just 38 attempts for a .316 percentage. The LSU hitting percentage was the best match-total for a Miner opponent this season.
The Miners will open Western Athletic Conference action at home Thursday at 7:00 p.m. with the SMU Mustangs.