Volleyball photo 9:30

Coming off a dominating performance in El Paso against the UTEP Miners, the Roadrunners returned home looking for a similar performance in their first week of conference play. UTSA did not disappoint by winning three of four sets (27-25, 25-20, 17-25, 27-25) against the Florida Atlantic University Owls (10-5, 1-1 C-USA) on Friday, Sept. 26 in the Convocation Center.

The Owls entered the match with a five-game road-winning streak. The energy and intensity in the Convocation Center along with stellar play from the Roadrunners, helped bring the streak to an end. Senior middle hitter Dempsey Thornton led the way throughout for the orange and blue, ending her night with 19 kills and the game-winning point in the fourth set.

“It feels good that we won, but we all feel like we didn’t play our best,” explained freshman middle hitter Megan Slan. “We all know that we need to make some changes and get refocused for our next match.”

UTSA won the first set in dramatic fashion, 27-25. Megan Slan came up with two huge blocks and freshman outside hitter Marijeta Runjic contributed with four kills in a match that included six ties and four lead changes.

The second set started as a back and forth match between the two teams. The Roadrunners took a 10-9 lead and never looked back, winning 25-20. Sophomore Conference USA setter of the week, Jessica Waldrip, racked up 14 assists while junior middle hitter Kylie Schott added two kills.

The Owls bounced back for their first set victory in the third set with a score of 25-17. Sophomore outside hitter Kristi Tekavec led the Owls with 11 attacks and one dig. After an early 11-11 tie, FAU pulled away by scoring five consecutive points on its way to a set victory.

The orange and blue would come back strong in the fourth and final set, to take the match, three sets to one. The Roadrunners were down by six points, but excellent adjustments from Head Coach Laura Groff and a powerful performance from senior Dempsey Thornton pushed the Roadrunners to the huge win.

“It took us awhile to figure stuff out this season,” explained freshman Megan Slan. “But we’re slowly progressing and I feel we’re at a point where we can really start getting better now.”

After Friday’s victory, the Roadrunners geared up on Sunday to take on the University of North Texas Mean Green. The Mean Green’s few minor mistakes led to the initial Roadrunner lead in the first set. It wasn’t long until North Texas came back tallying up the score at 6-2. After a Roadrunner timeout, the match continued with the Mean Green solidifying their lead. The set score was locked at 21 before the Roadrunners quickly broke the tie closing the first set at 22-25.

The second set started off lacking the usual Roadrunner ferocity until freshman Marijeta Runjic with a solid defensive score, created some momentum for her teammates. Fans and teammates were in an uproar as each player contributed to the overall synergy.

Both teams went on to take advantage of each other’s neglect for defense near the net. UTSA benefited from a quick regroup to get its focus back on blocking, passing and serving while UNT began to go toe-to-toe, keeping the ball in play. Mean Green senior Camille Cherry led her teammates through the match by calling for solid blocking near the net, while Mean Green junior Carne Dillard delivered an out-of-bounds save, firing it ferociously back over the net. UTSA overcame UNT’s inspired play, stealing the set for a 25-22 victory.

The Roadrunners led the entirety of the final set, ultimately winning 25-21.

“I was glad that we fought,” said UTSA Head Coach Laura Groff on the team’s 3-0 win. “I mean, we got in a hole in game one and two, then we were way ahead in game three. I just felt like we pushed enough to win. I thought it was a very good team. We just focused on what we were doing.”

“I thought we all started off slow, but we worked and … just kept on pushing,” said UTSA sophomore setter Jessica Waldrip. “We knew that when we started off that wasn’t us; we needed to turn it around immediately.”

UTSA looks to continue its undefeated conference play against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Friday, Oct. 3rd in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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