Volleyball splits weekend to Rice, UTEP


Photo by Lindsey Thomas

Julia Maenius

The UTSA Roadrunner volleyball team (10-7, 3-1 C-USA) split the weekend with a loss to the Rice Owls, currently ranked 21st in the nation, and a 3-1 win over the UTEP Miners. The ‘Runners spent a weekend on the road to contribute to their positively increasing Conference-USA (C-USA) record.

The ‘Runners were swept by the Rice Owls on Oct. 4. Hannah Lopez led the team with nine kills, and Courtney Walters contributed 16 of the team’s 28 assists. The ‘Runners matched the Owls during the first set, evening the score three times before the Owls took control of the game by claiming 11 of the final 16 points. The Owls ended the game 25-19.

The Owls came into the second set with determination as they claimed the lead early. After forcing the ‘Runners to take a timeout, the Owls capitalized on four miscues, closing the set 25-13, with a 14-5 run.

The ‘Runners regained momentum in the third set, relying heavily on Emily Ramirez and Lopez. The ‘Runners’ defense was not able to contain the Owls as the match continued, dropping the last set 21-25.

Looking for redemption, the ‘Runners headed to El Paso to face the Miners for the second time this season. Sophomore Lopez smashed a career-best .458 hitting percentage (13-2-24), with a game-high 13 kills. Kirby Smith tallied 12 kills and a personal-best four aces. Senior Kara Teal rejected nine UTEP attacks, setting a career-best and adding nine kills. Walters continued her streak of double-digit assists with 25, while sophomore Mia Perales chipped in with 17 helpers. Ramirez tallied 11 digs to lead the Roadrunners.

Opening the first set, the Miners gained the advantage with a 7-1 run. Holding the lead, the Miners capitalized on multiple hitting errors from the ‘Runners, concluding the set 25-20.

The ‘Runners regained their footing in the second set, claiming the lead early at 9-3. The Miners held off seven set points before Briana McCulloch claimed the set deciding point evening the match 1-1.

Continuing their momentum, the ‘Runners took advantage of the third set with aces by Ramirez and multiple kills by Smith and Teal. Forcing the Miners to take a timeout, the ‘Runners grabbed a four point cushion with a kill from Jenna Patton. Kills from Lopez and McCulloch sealed the score for the third set at 25-23.

After a slow start in set four, an ace by Smith changed the attitudes of the ‘Runners, leading to an upper hand for the ‘Runners to claim the match. After switching scores between teams, Teal forced extra points and two attack errors to claim the victory for the ‘Runners, 26-24.

The ‘Runners will be back in action on their home court to face LA Tech Friday, Oct. 11.