• December 5, 2019

COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: UTPB ready to host Lone Star Conference tournament opener - Odessa American: Sports

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COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: UTPB ready to host Lone Star Conference tournament opener

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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 8:14 pm

The UTPB volleyball team’s senior class is getting a chance for an encore.

The Falcons will host Dallas Baptist in the first round of the Lone Star Conference tournament at 6 tonight at the Falcon Dome.

UTPB closed out the regular season at home Saturday against West Texas A&M and then waited to find out its fate for the postseason, learning Sunday that it would host the Patriots.

“It’s great that we are in the playoffs again for the second year,” UTPB head coach Tim Loesch said. “We’re excited about that.

“It’s something new to get to host a conference tournament game and we’re super stoked. We’re a good home team, we are going to play hard and we want to make it the norm that we are playing at home, one of the better seeds and a threat to win the conference tournament.”

The Falcons (19-7 overall, 11-7 in conference) earned the seventh seed, while the Patriots (15-15, 7-11) are the No. 10 seed. The winner will advance to face Angelo State on Thursday at Texas A&M-Commerce.

This will be the second time this month the schools have met in the Permian Basin, with UTPB earning a sweeping victory, 25-20, 25-13, 25-16, on Nov. 2 at the Falcon Dome.

In that match, seniors Travana Matthews and Skyler Friel competed for 19 kills and three blocks.

That duo, along with senior setter Kiera Granado, are the ones that Loesch expects to lead that team, as they have been doing it all season.

“I’ve been really impressed with their leadership,” he said. “They’ve been here for three or four years and understand our scheme and how we want to play.

“They are great in the locker room before the matches, but also on the court, before rallies, during rallies and during time outs. They’ve become great communicators.”

Matthews lead the Falcons with 213 kills, followed by Isela Murillo (199), Aquincia Strambler (199) and Friel (175).

Friel, a middle blocker who transferred in prior to her sophomore season (2017), has 27 aces to lead the team, while Matthews, also a middle blocker, has 93 blocks, with Friel just behind with 90.

Analise Lucio leads UTPB with 698 assists, taking over full time when Granado was injured, with forced Loesch to revamp his offense while Granado (248 assists) worked to get back in the lineup, finally getting back on the court Saturday against the Lady Buffs.

Loesch was full of praise for Lucio, a sophomore from Justin.

“Really proud of Analise stepping up and doing a great job with the 5-1,” he said. “It’s nice to have Kiera hopefully back so we have some other options; we are going to do what’s best for the team against our opponent.”

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide

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