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UTEP Volleyball Opens Season With Tulane Volleyball I-10 Challenge

UTEP Athletics

EL PASO, Texas - UTEP Volleyball will begin its 2018 campaign this weekend (Aug. 24-25) as the Miners travel to New Orleans, La., to compete in the Tulane Volleyball I-10 challenge.

UTEP will start play Friday morning at 10 a.m. MT against Incarnate Word. Later that evening at 6 p.m. MT it will face Tulane. On Saturday the Orange and Blue will conclude their weekend with a match against Louisiana at 9 a.m. MT.

All matches will be played at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse.

Live Stats Incarnate Word:

Live Stats Tulane:

Live Stats Louisiana:

Live Stream:

Incarnate Word Scouting Report

The Cardinals posted a record of 8-15, 7-9 Southland Conference, finishing tied for eighth in the league in 2017. UIW lost eight players and starters from the 2017 roster. It returns 10 letter winners, and add seven newcomers to the squad. Head coach Samantha Dabbs enters her first season leading the UIW program after serving at North Florida for six years. Senior outside hitter Autumn Lockley was a member of the All-Southland Conference second team. Lockley led the Cardinals in kills (240), which ranked ninth in the SLC.

Incarnate Word Series Info

The Miners hold a 3-0 series advantage over the Cardinals. The first meeting was in 1982 at the Incarnate Word Classic where UTEP swept UIW. The last time these two teams met was in 1989 at the UTSA classic, and the Miners again defeated the Cardinals, 3-0.

First Meeting: 9/18/1982 UTEP – 2 Incarnate Word – 0

Last Meeting: 11/3/1989 UTEP – 3 Incarnate Word – 0

Tulane Scouting Report

Tulane ended the year 14-19, 3-17 American, finishing last in the league during the 2017 campaign. The Green Wave returns 12 letter winners from last season’s campaign. Sophomore setter Jenna Ibieta was second on the squad in assists (367). Dayna Kern led the team in kills (279), kills per set (2.23), total blocks (100) and points (340.0).

Tulane Series Info

The Green Wave and the Miners have competed on 17 occasions. Tulane leads the series with 13 victories. The two teams were once conference rivals up until Tulane left Conference USA in 2013.

First Meeting: 10/7/05 UTEP – 3 Tulane – 0

Last Meeting: 9/29/13 UTEP – 1 Tulane – 3

Louisiana Scouting Report

Louisiana boasted a 21-11, 13-3 Sun Belt, record for the 2017 season. It placed third in the conference standings, and made it to the semifinals of the 2017 Sun Belt Volleyball Championship. As a team it registered the most total blocks (303.0) in the league. Outside hitter Hali Wisnoskie had a freshman season that earned her several accolades, including All-Sun Belt first-team honors, Sun Belt Conference Championship All-Tournament Team and SBC Freshman of the Year. Wisnoskie led the Ragin’ Cajuns in kills (332). Returning also is middle blocker Dree’Ana Abram, who led the team in blocks (126), while earning a spot on the All-SBC first team.

Louisiana Series Info

The Ragin’ Cajuns and Miners have only faced off one time. That meeting was in the 1989 season, and UTEP picked up the win with a sweep of UL.

Only Meeting: 9/10/1989 UTEP – 3 Louisiana – 0

Looking Back

The last time UTEP hit the court was in its exhibition game (W, 3-0) versus Universidad Regional Del Norte (8/18). The Miners dominated the net with 10 total blocks earning them the sweep over the Cowgirls. Cheyenne Jones and Macey Austin led the team’s offense, recording eight kills each. Freshman setter Kristen Fritsche made her mark on the game with 21 assists during her first action in a Miner uniform.

2018 Schedule Breakdown

The 2018 UTEP volleyball schedule features nine home matches, including seven in the Sun City against Conference USA opponents. The Miners will also host the 2017 Conference USA postseason champion WKU. Before conference play begins, the team will be traveling to places from the bayou of New Orleans, La., to the beaches of San Diego, Calif. UTEP will be three weeks into the season before it sees it’s first home action under the lights of historic Memorial Gym.

On Sept. 7 the Miners will co-host the Borderland Invitational with NM State. UTEP will play the Arizona Wildcats at the Pan American Center to begin its weekend of play. UTEP will open at home on Sept. 8 versus Montana at 11 a.m. MT and will challenge I-10 rival NM State on the following day at 1 p.m. MT to close out the invitational. The Miners will be West Coast bound the following week when they head to San Diego, Calif., to participate in the SDSU/USD Challenge, playing against Oregon State and San Diego State. Following the match versus the Aztecs there will be a quick trip to Riverside, Calif., to play California Baptist and round out pre-conference play. The Miner C-USA schedule will prove to be a battle every night. Six teams are coming off winning records, and WKU represented the conference in the NCAA Volleyball Championship tournament in 2017.

Academic Culture

UTEP head coach Holly Watts’s hard work on the court and in the classroom culture that she has instilled in her team yielded 12 Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll recipients. These students maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better last season. Among these honor roll students Macey Austin and Cheyenne Jones were also honored with securing Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medals for maintaining a GPA of 3.75 or better. Due to the team’s stellar academic performance in the classroom they were honored as a recipient of the AVCA team academic award.

Home Sweet Home

UTEP recorded all six of its victories in Memorial Gym during the 2017 season. The home crowd atmosphere boosted the Miner team to some of their best performances of the campaign, including an upset win over Rice (9/22) in a five-set thriller where All-Conference USA performer Macey Austin had a career-high 27 kills.

New Faces

The Miners add eight new faces to the UTEP family this season. These new Miners come from a variety of different parts of the world from junior transfer Erika Sianez(El Paso native) to Martine Kragholm (Kristiansand, Norway). Freshmen Kenidy Howard, Alex Torres and Serena Patterson are all from the Lone Star State. El Paso native Briana Bustillos brings in college playing experience as a junior transfer from the New Mexico Military Institute. She helped the Broncos to a third place finish in the 2017 NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship. Two new setters round out the roster for the Miners. They are Hayley Meshay from Phoenix, Ariz. and Kristen Fritsche from Torrance, Calif.

Austin On Top

Junior outside hitter Macey Austin found a way to improve in almost every single statistical category during her sophomore campaign. She accumulated career highs in kills (359), total attempts (876), kills per set (3.65) and points (379.0). Austin’s on the court success garnered her an All-Conference USA second-team selection. She also finished ranked ninth in conference for kills last season. The league announced near the beginning of the 2018 campaign that Austin was named to the 2018 C-USA Women’s Volleyball Preseason Team.

Serving The Community

Macey Austin’s excellence is not limited only to the court. For the second straight year Austin received the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal for maintaining a GPA of above a 3.75. Austin has proven to be an incredible example of an all-around student-athlete, earning the C-USA Spirit of Service award where she totaled 21.75 hours of community service. She contributed time with the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, UTEP Volleyball Camp and the Game Change Volleyball Camps.

Baumgartner Making Her Mark

Kylie Baumgartner is looking to place her name in the UTEP record books by the end of her final season. Baumgartner ranks seventh all-time in total block assists (274). She needs 15 block assists to surpass former teammate Lindsey Larson for sixth all-time. Baumgartner is also poised to pass some major milestones in career total blocks. She only needs eight total blocks to rate seventh all-time in program history. She is on pace to become only the second player in Miner history to have 300+ block assists and 400+ total blocks in a career.

International Miners

Senior Ashley Grzebeniak and junior Niki Cebak represent the great nation of Canada. They combined for 458 digs during the 2017 season and played in 188 sets. They are now joined by another international player, Martine Kragholm of Kristiansand, Norway. Kragholm will be called upon to contribute quickly, and is a four-time Norwegian Youth National Championship gold-medalist with Kristiansand Sand Volleyball Klubb. The 5,169 miles is a long way from home for the talented middle blocker, but Grzebeniak and Cebak will surely show her the ropes to help acclimate her to life in the Sun City.

Fresh Setters

The Miners will rely on two freshmen setters to surge their offense this season.Kristen Fritsche (Torrance, Calif.) and Hayley Meshay (Phoenix, Ariz.) are both accomplished high school athletes that will hope to fill the shoes that last year’s senior starter Amanda King left behind. King tallied 758 assists in 2017. Fritsche was a four-year varsity starter at South Torrance High School, three-time captain and was named to the All-Pioneer League three times. During Meshay’s senior year at Arizona Lutheran Academy, she notched 508 kills at a .326 clip, 85 service aces, 162 digs and 64 assists, as well as garnering Division 2 Metro West Player of the Year and first-team honors. King tallied 758 assists in 2017. Fritsche and Meshay will look to replace that production.