Miners Set to Hold First Conference USA Home Matches
Oct. 3, 2013
El Paso- The UTEP volleyball team holds its first Conference USA home matches this weekend. The Miners will face off against Florida Atlantic on Friday at 7 p.m. (MT) and FIU on Sunday at 12 p.m.
These matches will also serve as the home debut of head coach Holly Watts in Conference USA play.
This past weekend the Orange and Blue went 1-1 in league action on the road. The Miners beat La Tech in a 3-1 match before falling to Tulane in a 1-3 match.
Herrera led the Orange and Blue and garnered her fifth double- double against La Tech. Overall, she captured 32 kills while also contributing 26 digs and 3 block assists.
Jones tied Herrera in kills as she contributed 32 and Patterson set up the Miners’ court action with 80 assists.
UTEP is now 1-1 in Conference USA and 7-6 overall.
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Florida Atlantic Scouting Report Series: This will be the first meeting between the Miners and the Owls. Florida Atlantic is currently 9-6 overall and 1-1 in Conference USA.
Leading Florida Atlantic on the court is outside hitter Alessia Pizzoccheri. The junior had her fifth double-double of the season in a five-set match against Marshall on Sept. 27. In that match, she recorded 16 digs and 15 kills. She followed that up with her best all-around performance of the season on Sept. 29. In a four-set win over Charlotte, Pizzoccheri had a match-high 19 kills to go with eight digs, five service aces and two block assists. The Owls fell to Marshall after five sets but were able to beat Charlotte in four sets for their first Conference USA win.
FIU Scouting Report Series: Sunday will mark the first time UTEP and FIU square off. The Panthers are currently 1-1 in Conference USA and 7-7 overall after falling to Marshall in a 0-3 match.
a force for FIU is middle blocker Kimberly smith. The senior registered a career-high 19 kills against Syracuse as she garnered an attack percentage of .450 with only one error. The middle blocker has contributed a total of 153 kills with only 38 errors, 58 blocks (10s/48a), and a .341 hitting percentage.
The Watts Era
Holly Watts is ready for her first home Conference USA match as UTEP’s head coach.
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.
Herrera made her way onto the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, UTEP Invitational, and art Carmichael all- Tournament teams. The middle blocker was also selected to the 2013 Conference USA Preseason Volleyball team.
Patterson was selected to the art Carmichael Invitational all-Tournament team as Valencia garnered a spot on the UTEP Invitational all- Tournament Team.
Setting Up For Success
In 2012, senior Malia Patterson totaled 1,177 assists for the Miners, and in 2013 she has proven that she will continue to dominate the court.
The senior has registered a total 444 assists including a season high of 55 against Oral Roberts (9/6).
This past week, Patterson secured 80 assists in the opening weekend of Conference USA. She is ranked seventh in Conference USA play for assists (9.45 per set).
Patterson dominated the court in the Miners’ first league match against La Tech, where she led the game with 42 assists.
Herrera For the Kill
Xitlali Herrera has established herself not only as a leader on the team but also in the league. She ranks among the top players in three conference categories.
The senior hammered out 32 kills this past weekend, ranking her third in Conference USA in points and fifth in kills per set, averaging 4.61 points per set. The middle blocker has posted 183 kills this season. Herrera has also generated 122 digs and 42 (8s/34a) blocks for the Miners this season. The senior is also ranked 15th in C-USA in hitting percentage.
The veteran wrapped up the 2012 season ranking in four categories in C-Usa: hitting percentage (.301, 6th), points per set (10th), blocks (109, 13th) and kills (333, 13th). The standout led the team in hitting percentage (.300), and 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).
Victoria Delivers Defense
Veteran Victoria Valencia leads the Miner defense with 174 digs since the start of the season. This past weekend the El Paso native delivered 14 digs, three assists and one service ace.
The senior registered a career-high 22 digs against Oral Roberts (9/6) and chipped in three assists and an ace. Valencia is ranked 12th in Conference USA, averaging 3.83 digs per set.
In 2012, Valencia posted 377 digs in 29 matches for the Miners, ranking her 12th overall in Conference USA.
Standout Xitlali Herrera’s all-around performance has not only garnered her attention in Conference USA, but nationally as well.
The veteran is ranked 30th in the nation in kills. Herrera has posted 183 kills this season, averaging 4.00 per set. The senior is also ranked 25th in the nation in points per match. Herrera averages 4.61 points per set.
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 AVCA all- Midwest Region First Team.
Newcomer Making Stats
In her first season with the Miners, transfer Dayana Acevedo is becoming a player to watch as her attention grabbing performance ranks her among the best in the league.
The junior has secured 11 service aces for the Miners, ranking her 15th in Conference USA. The defensive specialist has also delivered 113 digs for the Orange and Blue.
Acevedo was a dominant backcourt player for Iowa Western as she 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.
Stepping Up to the Net
Sophomore Talia Jones adds depth to the Orange and Blue as she consistently puts up stats for the Miners.
Jones is second on the team in kills as she has registered 144 including 32 in the opening weekend of Conference USA. The outside hitter ranks 11th in the league as she averages 3.28 kills per set.
The sophomore also excels in service aces as she ranks 10th in Conference USA. Jones has delivered 12 aces, averaging 0.28 per set.
Jones performance also ranks her 12th in conference for points as she averages 3.72 per game.
The Miners’ efforts in the 2012 campaign rank them in the top 70 nationally in two categories: hitting percentage (55th) and blocks per set (68th).
The Orange and Blue is currently ranked nationally in two categories. UTEP is 85th in the nation in kills per set, as the Miners average 13.42, and 105th in assists per set averaging 12.27.
The Conference USA Preseason Poll placed UTEP fifth out of 15 teams. Already two games into league play, the Miners are ranked in six categories in Conference USA.
UTEP stands in fifth place in hitting percentage (.231), sixth in kills (13.39), seventh in assists (12.27), ninth in digs (14.57), 10th in blocks (1.92), and 11th in service aces (1.11)
The 2013 season will be one for the seniors as four veterans return for their final year with the Miners. Jacqueline Cason, Malia Patterson and Victoria Valencia will join All- American 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 (zero errors), with three block assists and a hitting efficiency of .600.
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 (9/26).
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 including 17 kills and 15 digs versus Tulsa (10/12) where she led the squad’s defense and offense. The middle blocker has earned three spots in the UTEP record book for hitting percentage in three sets (.647-4th), hitting percentage in four sets (.556-3rd) and five sets (.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 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.
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