Volleyball splits weekend wins with UTEP


Dalton Hartmann

Amanda Ifeanyi executes a slide hit during a game earlier this season. Ifeanyi has appeared in 18 matches for UTSA this season and recorded 111 kills. Dalton Hartmann/The Paisano

Maddie Cortez, Contributing Writer

The UTSA volleyball team leveled their record to 8-14 overall and 5-5 in conference play after battling the University of Texas at El Paso Miners (17-6, 6-4 C-USA). UTSA took UTEP into the fifth set of the first match, losing by six in the end. The Roadrunners restored a victory in the second match by winning the fifth set 19-17. 

Diving into the first set of Friday’s match, both teams alternated the first five points until the Miners tightened their blocking and strengthened their offense. UTSA drew closer after being down 21-14 with kills from Bianca Ejesieme and Alison Jennings, a few of UTSA’s offensive leaders in the match. UTEP regained their fire, ending the first set with a kill and a score of 25-23. 

In the second set, both teams traded points hand in hand for the first eight points until UTEP took a three-point scoring run with the score then being 11-8. Collecting kills, the Miners took the victory in the set with a score of 25-18. 

The ‘Runners added fuel to their fire in the third set of the game. Jennings and Ejesieme earned the ‘Runners their first point with a strong block against the Miners. UTSA racked up points on the board with kills, aces and attack errors from UTEP. Outside hitter and game leader, Kirby Smith led with five kills in the second set and 11 overall. Both teams shared the last seven points. Finally, Smith won the set with a signature kill, resulting in a win in the third set by eight points 25-17. 

Continuing their fire, UTSA started with a three-point scoring run. The Miners were challenged by Courtney Walters as she claimed 41 assists overall in the match, giving her outsides and middles the opportunity for kills. UTSA won the fourth set 25-21, with Walters assisting Ejesieme with the set-winning kill. 

Entering the final set of the match, UTEP claimed a four-point run, giving them an early 8-2 advantage. UTSA disrupted UTEP’s run with a kill from outside hitter Hannah Lopez. In the last moments of the fifth set, both teams rotated points making the score 14-9. UTEP won the set and the match with a kill, finalizing the score at 15-9. 

Looking for redemption in Saturday’s game, the ‘Runners started with a win in the first set. Down by three points most of the set, UTSA eventually leveled the score 13-13. The score was tied once again 18-18, but the kills made by Skyeler Embry, Bianca Ejesieme and Alicia Coppedge, delivered the ‘Runners a five-point lead. UTSA won the first set, 25-21. 

Undecided on who will take the final victory, UTEP collected the second and third set wins. The second set concluded with a 25-14 score, and although the ‘Runners fell short by eleven points, over 70% of their points came from kills. The third set score was 25-21. 

The Roadrunners fought until their overall victory in the two final sets. Both teams engaged in a long fourth set, until the ‘Runners took it by a final score of 32-30. Finally, the ‘Runners took a deserved victory in a hard fought final set 19-17. 

UTSA ended the week 1-1 and there were players notable for their performance. Lopez had 17 kills and four blocks. Setting up for her teammates, Walters had 52 assists and had an impressive eight digs. However, senior libero Mia Ybarra led the ‘Runners in defense with 19 digs. UTSA will close out the regular season next week on the road in Houston when they take on the Rice Owls (15-5, 10-0 C-USA).