A UTSA volleyball player spiking the ball.

A spike during a game against UNT last season. Chase Otero/The Paisano

UTSA sports are up and running, and one big sport that doesn’t get enough recognition is volleyball. The team has yet to start their regular season, but they have played in two tournaments and one exhibition match. The team currently has a 5-1 record, the one loss coming at the hands of Texas State University.

This team is primed and ready to roll, led by the trio of seniors: Amanda Gonzales, Ashley Dominguez and Shelby Williams. Gonzales is the starting setter for this Roadrunner team. She has impressed in multiple games and is a key reason the team is running smoothly right now. With games ranging from 19 to 48 assists, she is looking to have another great season after playing in all 28 matches last season and earning over 10 assists per set average. 

Dominguez appeared in 24 matches last season and played a total of 59 sets for UTSA. This will be her second and final season with the team; she played for North Dakota her freshman and sophomore years. The “hometown hero” is trying to improve her production from last year, when she had 33 assists on the year and averaged 1.17 digs a set. Williams, the senior from New Braunfels, appeared in all 28 matches last season for the ‘Runners. She averaged 2.65 digs per set and was second on the team. She had 15 double-digit performances and had 37 assists for the year. 

These three hope to lead the way this season, along with some help from the underclassmen. Kirby Smith, a freshman from Plano, Texas, has impressed as a hitter in the early part of the season. Another key hitter this year will be junior Brianna McCulloch, who started in 21 matches and played in all 28. She finished last season with a whopping 395 kills and double digit kills in 21 matches last season. 

With these big names leading the pack, the ‘Runners hope to make a big push in the conference. They finished middle of the pack last year but hope to head straight to the top of the charts this season. The team has six more matches before they hit conference play. Their next three matches will be on the road kicking off with Houston on Friday, Sept. 7 at 11a.m, followed by a matchup with Houston Baptist University at 4:30 p.m. They will then play Cornell University Sept. 8 to wrap up their tournament play for the week. 

The team will finally make their way home again for a meeting with their rival, Texas State University. The ‘Runners are looking for revenge since their only blemish so far on their record is to the Bobcats. The weekend after, they will be playing Baylor University in the Convocation Center and will also welcome Virginia Tech before entering conference play. After last season of finishing in the middle of the pack, the team has its core returning. The Roadrunners have a solid group of freshman joining the team to bolster their chances of reaching the top of the leaderboards for Conference-USA. The team finished with a record of 12-16 and a 9-5 conference record last season. 

With Western Kentucky University (WKU) winning the conference, UTSA hopes to shake things up and have a different outcome from last year’s standings. Universtiy of North Texas had a dominant season last year and was very close to WKU in the standings. With two powerhouses in the conference, the ‘Runners may have a hard time finding their footing in the race to the top. After a sixth place finish, the Roadrunners hope to rally and use this early season momentum to rocket them into a top seeded slot for the conference tournament. 

With a school like UTSA always trying to outplay the “Big Brother” University of Texas, one huge way to put the school out there would be to win the volleyball conference. Making the National Championship Tournament would also be a big push for the sports department’s progress. The team and many fans have high hopes that the team can transform into a powerhouse.

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