UAB Volleyball Tops UTEP In Four Sets

Junior Kiriana Hirini tallied 11 kills and seven blocks in the win over UTEP.

Oct. 25, 2013

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EL PASO, Texas - The UAB volleyball (16-9, 5-4 C-USA) defeated UTEP (12-8, 5-3 C-USA) in four sets on Friday evening. The Blazers battled through adversity to come back and win against a tough Conference USA opponent on the road.

"I don't know if there has been a time when I was more proud of the girls than I am tonight," said head coach Kerry Messersmith. "When Becca (Howard) went down, freshman Amber Treace had to go in and she did a phenomenal job at setter. It is one thing to lose a hitter, but when you have your starting setter go down it is a much tougher situation to deal with."

Howard went down in the first set, forcing Messersmith to turn to Treace, who had seen limited action on the season. Treace settled in and put together a stellar performance at the helm of the Blazers' offense. She dished out a career-high 41 helpers to the fleet of Blazer hitters.

UAB had to come from behind after UTEP went up with a 25-20 win in the first set. The Blazers countered with a 25-20 win in set two to tie the match up at 1-1 heading into the break. They carried the momentum into the third set, pushing past the Miners 25-23. Then, UAB capped off the win with a 25-20 score in the fourth set.

"I think the most impressive part tonight was the other kids were so patient and supportive," remarked Messersmith. "It was a great team win and I am just so proud of this group of girls for bouncing back to beat a very good team like UTEP on the road."

The Blazers had a trio of hitters collect double-digit kills against UTEP. Sophomore Sam Skinner led the team with 15 kills and juniors Sara Rishell and Kiriana Hirini added 13 and 11, respectively. Rishell hit a career-best and team high .550 attack percentage against the Miners.

Senior Ally Slaughter stepped up from behind the service line to land a career-high four aces in the win. Fellow senior Rachel Fairbanks scooped up 23 digs to help limit the Miners' offensive attack. As a team the Blazers put down 10 total blocks, with Hirini accounting for a match-best seven.

UAB will return to the state of Alabama on Sunday, Oct. 29 to take on Alabama A&M in a non-conference matchup. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. CT in Huntsville, Ala.

For the latest news on Blazer sports, follow the UAB Athletics Twitter account: @UABathletics. For volleyball news, follow @UAB_VB.