Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU volleyball team looks to bounce back from their first Conference USA loss of the year in a two-game series against the UTEP Miners in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.
Holding a 9-10 record this season, their five-game winning streak was brought to an end after splitting a two-game series against the MTSU Blue Raiders. Winning the first of two matches, FIU concluded the series with a 3-2 loss on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.
Prior to that loss, the Panthers were off to the best start to conference play in program history, winning the first game of the series with a 3-2 score.
After a 26-24 loss in the first set of the match, they went on to win the next two sets, dominating the third with a 25-13 win.
Tying the game at 2-2, graduate student middle blocker Kaylee Oscarson scored three of the Blue Raiders’ last four points and helped her team win the fourth set.
Dueling in the final set, FIU found themselves in a 14-12 deficit and couldn’t let the other team score.
Senior middle blocker Travel Morris collected a timely kill and started a scoring run for the Panthers, as Oscarson would give up points on an attack error immediately after.
With the game tied at 14-14, both teams went back and forth until senior opposite hitter Amin Yasso went on a scoring rampage.
Accounting for three out of her team’s final four points, Yasso helped lead FIU to a 18-16 victory in the fifth set and a 3-2 match victory.
Improving their record to 9-9 on the season, they jumped out to a 5-0 start against CUSA teams. However, their perfect start and .500 record didn’t last longer than one day, as they lost the second game of the series 3-2.
Following the same pattern as the first game, the Panthers won both the second and third sets after losing the first.
Once again tying the match in the fourth set, senior right-side hitter Kayla Henley collected MTSU’s final two kills and won the set 26-24.
Deflated from the close loss in their previous set, FIU couldn’t find any offensive momentum in the final set and lost with a 15-8 score.
Falling to the Blue Raiders and taking a 3-2 loss in the final game of the series, they dropped to 9-10 on the season.
Taking their first conference loss of the season, the Panthers were severely outshot by their opponent, surrendering more kills in both matches.
Despite collecting less kills in the first match, FIU committed 21 errors as opposed to MTSU’s 33 errors for the game. Unable to force as many mistakes in the second match, an improved hitting accuracy allowed their opponents to defeat them.
Looking to learn from their first loss, the Panthers are set to face off with UTEP in a two-game series.
Bolstering an 11-6 record this season, the Miners took a 3-2 loss in their most recent match against the New Mexico State Aggies on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.
Also reaching a career-high in that match, freshman setter Kalia Kohler collected 30 assists in the match. Despite the combined efforts of three Miners setting career bests, they still couldn’t pull away with a win.
Dropping to 3-3 against CUSA teams this season, they won their three matches prior after an 0-2 start to conference play.
Statistically, UTEP holds an advantage over FIU in almost every major statistical category. This season, the Miners have collected 801 kills while allowing 725 kills to other teams.
On 168 more attempts, the Panthers have accumulated 774 kills while allowing 848 to other teams. The only place where they hold an offensive statistical advantage is in opponents errors, collecting 10 more than UTEP this season.
If FIU wants to resume their winning ways, they must execute their game plan correctly, as they have found success by forcing errors and playing accurate offense.
Clashing with a conference foe, the FIU volleyball team is traveling to El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners in a two-game series, starting on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Memorial Gym and the game can be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40