Memphis Falls in Five Sets at UTEP
Oct. 7, 2011
Vesna Jelic and 25 kills by Altrese Hawkins, the University of Memphis volleyball team dropped a five-set heartbreaker to UTEP, 3-2 (26-24; 18-25, 14-25; 25-20; 12-15) Saturday night at Memorial Gym. The Tigers fall to 14-5 overall this season and 3-3 in Conference USA, while UTEP improves to 14-5 overall and 4-2 in C-USA.
"Tonight was a battle of momentum," University of Memphis head coach April Jauregui said. "I give credit to UTEP; they are a very solid team that can do some real damage with their block. There is a reason they are one of the top defensive teams."
Hawkins hit .258 in the match with 25 kills, nine errors and 62 attempts, while Marija Jovanovic and Lauren Hawkins chipped in eight kills and six kills, respectively. Hajnalka Molnar, who is currently third in the NCAA in assists per set, finished the match with 52 assists, seven digs and five aces, while Katie Meyer chipped in four kills and four blocks. Aleksandra Petronijevic also registered a team-high 15 digs.
"They disrupted some of the things we wanted to do offensively and forced us to adjust and rely on aggressive serving and smart play," Jauregui said. "I am proud of the team for fighting back after the third set; it would have been easy to roll over."
The Miners were led by a trio of players with double digit kills, as Bridget Logan (17), Xitali Herrera (16) and Jeane Horton (12) all finished with more than 10 kills. Malia Patterson led UTEP with 48 assists, and Stephanie Figueroa anchored the back row with 14 digs.
Memphis and UTEP battled throughout the first set as neither team could take a commanding lead. Memphis led 10-8 after a kill by Jelic and an attack error by UTEP, but the Miners rallied to score three straight points and take the lead 11-10. The Tigers then found themselves down 22-19 after a kill by Herrera from gave UTEP a three-point advantage and forced Memphis to call a timeout. A Miners' service error coupled with a kill by Hawkins and an ace from Molnar let Memphis tie the set back at 22 as part of a 5-1 Memphis run that gave the Tigers a 24-23 advantage.
UTEP staved off the 24-23 set point with a kill from Herrera, but the Tigers clinched the set with a block from Jovanovic and Meyer and a service error by UTEP. A. Hawkins led the Tigers in the first set with seven kills on 16 attempts while hitting at a .375 clip, and Molnar chipped in 15 assists.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 5-3 lead in the second set behind two kills from A. Hawkins and one from Lauren Hawkins as well as Meyer. Memphis kept that advantage and led 14-12 before UTEP would claw back to tie the set at 15. UTEP regained the lead via a 5-1 run that gave the Miners a 20-17 advantage. From there, UTEP would close the set on another 5-1 run and take set two, 25-18.
The Miners opened the third set on a 5-0 run and never looked back, extending that advantage to 14-4 before Memphis found its footing. Still, the Tigers would only get as close as 17-10 before UTEP closed the set on a 8-4 run to clinch the set 25-14 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
After being tied 1-1 in the fourth set, a kill by Meyer sparked an 7-3 run that gave Memphis an 8-4 lead that it never relinquished. Three kills from A. Hawkins and one from L. Hawkins spurred another Memphis run that pushed the Tigers' lead to 15-10. A service error by Jovanovic ended the run and made the score 15-11, but the Tigers rallied to score three straight and maintain their large lead at 18-11. The Miners would get as close as 21-17, but a kill from L. Hawkins and a bad set from Miners' setter Marie-Therese Joyce gave the set to Memphis 25-20.
The Tigers sprinted out to a 7-3 advantage in the deciding fifth set behind two kills from A. Hawkins and service aces from Hajnalka Molnar and Maja Kostic. A Memphis service error combined with two Miners' kills by Horton tied the set at 7, however, and forced the Tigers to take a timeout. An attack error from A. Hawkins gave the Miners their first lead of the set at 8-7, but Vesna Jelic responded with a kill to net the set at eight.
The teams then traded points and found themselves tied at 12. UTEP closed the set out behind three-straight blocks from Herrera and Bridget Logan.
Memphis plays UTEP again tomorrow, Oct. 8 at Memorial Gym. Game time is slated for 8 p.m. CT.
"It is never fun to lose, and we definitely had chances to win," Jauregui said. "We have another opportunity tomorrow night."