Coming off a 3-2 win against the University of the Incarnate Word, the UTSA volleyball team (3-6) traveled to College Station to compete in the Texas A&M Invitational. Facing their third Power Five opponent of the season, the Roadrunners went 1-2 on the weekend.
Taking on Albany as their first opponent of the tournament, the ‘Runners posted a full sweep of the Great Danes, taking the match in three sets. Multiple scoring runs boosted UTSA past the Great Danes with a leading performance from sophomore middle blocker Amanda Ifeanyi with 14 kills. A six-point scoring run in the first set fueled the ‘Runners’ offense to take the first set 25-12. Keeping the momentum, an early 5-2 lead kept UTSA ahead for the entirety of the second set. Freshman setter Mekaila Aupiu led the team with 20 assists, followed by junior setter Courtney Walters with 17. A kill from junior outside hitter Hunter Coppola set the ‘Runners ahead 24-16 at match point. A block from junior right side Bianca Ejesieme and Ifeanyi ended the set 25-16. A kill from senior outside Hannah Lopez secured the ‘Runners’ lead in the third set, 10-7. Battling for dominance, Albany did not let UTSA gain more than a two point lead, forcing the set to 28. 13 digs from both Lopez and senior outside Kirby Smith gave the ‘Runner defense the upper hand to polish off the match with a kill from Ifeanyi to claim the final set 28-26.
The tides then turned for the ‘Runners as they dropped matches to Houston and Texas A&M. Houston took an early lead against UTSA in the second matchup of the tournament. Keeping the scoring margin ahead by at least two points for the first set, Houston took the match lead, 25-21. The ‘Runners snagged an early 5-4 lead before the Cougars turned the tables and claimed the second set, 25-21. In the third, Houston kept the ‘Runners at bay, out-hitting them by .153 percent. The Cougars claimed the match 3-0 with a final set score of 25-17.
The Texas A&M Aggies gave an early jump to the scoreboard in the first set with a 7-0 scoring run. Not allowing the ‘Runners to earn more than 14 points, the Aggies capitalized on a weak UTSA defense by claiming the first set 25-14 from a six-kill scoring run. Getting into gear, the ‘Runners stayed evenly matched with A&M for the first portion of the second set, staying close at 8-10. Fueled by five back-to-back kills, the Aggies took the lead and ran with it, closing the second set 25-17. Tied at 11-11 in the third set, the ‘Runners had the attacking advantage but were unable to engage the blocking on the front row. Five kills gave the Aggies the upper hand to claim the match 3-0 and the third set 25-18.
The ‘Runners will be back in action at the Marquette Invitational Friday, Sept. 17-18 where they will take on Marquette, Northern Iowa and Wright State. First serve will be Sept. 17, at 12 p.m. against Marquette.