On Saturday Sept. 1, the Roadrunners volleyball team won the UTSA Classic Championship. The game extended UTSA’s winning streak to three by beating the Miners of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in an electrifying fashion.
Before claiming the championship Saturday night, the Roadrunners relinquished a win to the Rice Owls on Aug. 28.
Historically, the Owls own the series match-up with a 15 to one edge. The Roadrunners committed 30 errors and were held to a staggeringly low hitting percentage of .072. “The Owls are a really good team. It was an eye opener for our ladies. We can’t just show up and play. We have to be focused each and every match.” Head Coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff said. Rice was able to force eight UTSA attack errors to seize victory four sets to one.
Later on that week, the Runners had their first match in the UTSA Classic against the Belmont University Bruins. According to Neugebauer-Groff, after losing to Rice, the Roadrunners got back to basics.
“Wednesday was a great practice for the girls. They came ready and focused to practice.” The following match against Belmont University the Roadrunners hit .368 in route to sweeping the Bruins in three sets (25-17, 25-18, 25-15) while holding the Bruins to .061 hitting percentage. One major bright spot for Neugebauer-Groff is the team’s defensive capabilities, “I really like our blocking; we have great blockers.”
On Saturday, The Roadrunners would complete the tournament sweep of the Bruins by beating them three sets to one (25-20, 25-15, 22-25, 25-22). Senior, Whitney Walls, recorded 13 kills while sophomore Dempsey Thornton recorded a double-double with 24 kills and 11 digs. On the same day, UTSA played UTEP in the championship match, and was led by junior McKenzie Adams.
Adams recorded a double-double with 20 digs and 19 kills. Also, injured freshman Annie Kunes contributed with 17 digs in UTSA’s route to beating the UTEP Miners. When asked about Kune’s contribution to the team, Neugebauer-Groff said, “It’s so hard for a freshman to come right in and contribute. Fortunately, for us, Annie’s been able to do that.”
While speaking with Kunes, her strength is evident stating, “I’m hurt. I have a wrist injury and hip injury, but my team needs me, so I give it everything I have.”
The biggest change for Kunes from high school to college has been “The speed. The college game is so much faster, but as I play more, I’m getting more use to it.”
Despite having a three-match sweep over the weekend and claiming the UTSA Classic championship, Neugebauer-Groff wants the team “to grow up. We need to come into each match focused. We need to eliminate stupid errors and stay focused.”
When asked about the strengths the team exhibited over the weekend, Neugebauer-Groff said, “I love our blocking and ball handling. However, we do need to improve on serving, but we have a really good team here.”
UTSA’s next home game will be a conference opener against Utah State at 6:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center.