Miners Fall in Four to RIce
The UTEP Miners out-dug the Rice Owls, 98-79, Thursday night in Memorial Gym but could not come up with a win, falling, 3-1 (23-30, 30-25, 30-23, 30-23), in El Paso as UTEP made its return to Western Athletic Conference action after a week off.
Rice (17-9, 8-4 WAC) completed the come-from-behind victory behind the arm of Rebeca Pazo’s match-high 26 kill, eight error, performance as the Owls took games three and four, 30-23, 30-23.
UTEP (7-20, 1-9 WAC) got double-digit digs from five players, including sophomore Kari Stacy’s match-high tying 21. Jennifer Abbruzzese mustered 20 digs for the Miners, followed by Nina Reeves’ 17 and Krystal Gabriel and Cecilla Moreno’s 16. The 98 digs for the four games ranks as the fifth-best total in school history.
In taking game one, the Miners earned its fourth consecutive WAC game win after sweeping Boise State on Oct. 25. UTEP looked as though it might take a 2-0 lead into the intermission but had its momentum stopped on an apparent Reeves ace that was overruled and a replay was granted. The Miners were up by two points late in the second game at the time of the replay. Rice would go on to knot the match up at one game apiece.
Stacey’s career-high 21 digs was joined by 16 kills as the Duncan, Ariz., native was one of four Miners to record a double-double on the night. Reeves tacked on a team-high 22 kills for her 10th career double-double, Abbruzzese notched her team-leading 16th double-double with 12 kills, while Gabriel dished out 44 assists for the seventh double-double of her career.
Rice was able to overcome trailing the Miners by five kills, 67-62, by out-blocking UTEP, 22-5. The Miners have now been out-blocked, 43-9, in its last two matches.
Next up for the Miners is a must-win match against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Tulsa is one point ahead of UTEP for the eighth-and-final spot at the WAC postseason tournament. There should be no shortage of emotion for the Miners as the Noon match will be the final home match of Abbruzzese, Megan Brock and Brittney Bennett’s career.