Back in action

April 3rd, 2014

More than four months after their last match, the Broncs returned to the volleyball court March 29 to host a spring tournament at the Field House; each match consisted of two sets of 25. The Broncs faced the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Coastal Bend College, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and The University of Texas at Brownsville in the first of three spring events for the semester.

Head Coach Brian Yale saw some good things from the tournament and some things they could work on as the Broncs struggled through the tournament, losing one match, winning one and tying two matches. The winning match was against Coastal Bend as the Broncs (1-1-2) took both sets.

Yale vows that the women are going to continue to improve and get ready for upcoming tournaments in the next couple  of weeks.

Preparation for the regular season has begun as the team seeks to better last fall’s 13–20 record.

“We got about four to five more weeks to improve to get ready for the fall,” Yale said. “(Communication is) a working process, it is something we talk about weekly in practice. There were definitely some moments of a communication breakdown, which I am not happy with, and it caused a little bit of problems for us.”

According to Yale, the team was able to get good repetitions in this competition, especially since it was their first action since a 3-0 loss to California State University Bakersfield in November.

“For all the teams, it’s a different kind of conditioning, playing that many sets in a row with a little break here and there,” Yale said. “It is definitely different than how practice has been.”

The event was a first for Lauren Mathewson, the newest addition to the coaching staff, who graduated in 2011 from Kansas State with a marketing degree. She was one of the top liberos in Wildcat history and joined the team April 15. Liberos are defensive specialists, they need to be able to dig well, get a hand on every ball that comes their way and keep the play alive. Mathewson is in charge of the liberos, outside hitters, recruiting and organizing summer youth camps. The camps will take place throughout July; three position camps, a two-day all-skills camp and a team competition camp.

“I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Broncs volleyball team as an assistant coach,” Mathewson said. “I was immediately drawn to Coach Yale’s passion for coaching and his attention to detail.”

Next tournament for the Broncs is April 5 when they travel to Houston to compete in an event hosted by the Fundamental Athletic Sports Training Complex and Houston Junior’s Volleyball Club at the Reliant Center next to Reliant Stadium.

The Broncs will face off against Houston Baptist, Texas Southern, Louisiana-Lafayette and the University of North Texas.

“This tournament was the first one of the semester and one to get all the jitters out of the way and working on new relationships,” Yale said. “We will be better next week in Houston and the week after that we will be better in San Antonio, so it is a building process.”

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Spring Preview 2014

January 13th, 2014

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Weekly updates Nov. 14-22

November 21st, 2013

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Volleyball vs. Chicago State Nov. 7

November 8th, 2013

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Volleyball in Pink

October 24th, 2013

It was the Broncs Against Breast Cancer Night at the Field House Oct. 21, as the University played against The Grand Canyon University Antelopes in front of a record-breaking crowd of, 1018.

 The Broncs struggled in the first and second sets losing them back-to-back. The team came back to win the third set, but lost the game in the fourth.

 This is their third straight Western Athletic Conference loss after their first conference win Oct. 12 against Chicago State. The Broncs conference record is now 1-8 with an overall record of 11-14. Krysta Freitas, right side and outside hitter, led with 12 kills and 11 digs.

“I’m not thinking of the losses, just trying to keep our heads up,” the junior said. “We need to find our middle so we can work better.”

The Broncs played catch-up with the Antelopes, who had a 7-point lead throughout the first set and a 5-point lead in the second set. In the end, the Antelopes took the first and second sets with a score 25-18 and 25-17.

In set three, the Broncs took the lead for the first time in the game. They were able to win the set 25-15. In the fourth match, the Broncs fought but lost with a final score of 25-18.

“We need to keep the momentum up,” Head Coach Brian Yale said. “We started slow and then in the third we did good and we can’t just do good once.”

The Broncs will play against New Mexico State University Oct. 26 at Las Cruces, N.M. The next home game will be against Texas Southern University Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Field House.

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UTPA Broncs go pink

October 20th, 2013

The University Athletic Department announced Oct. 14 they will host a breast cancer benefit Bronc volleyball game Oct. 21.

The department is partnering with the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to bring awareness and raise money for the cause during the game against Grand Canyon University. The broncs will face off at 7 p.m. at the UTPA Field House.

Although admission to the game is free, there will be a Broncs Against Breast Cancer T-shirt for sale for $10.

The T-shirts are available for purchase at the UTPA Athletics Office starting Oct. 18, but will also be available during the game itself.

According to the department, all proceeds will go to the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Cancer Foundation.

There will also be another game dedicated to Breast Cancer awareness. The event will be during a UTPA women’s basketball game, the date is to be announced.

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Strong start runs flat

October 17th, 2013

The Bronc volleyball team started its first year of the Western Athletic Conference play on a five-game losing streak after tying for the second-best season start record in UTPA program history. According to Head Coach Brian Yale, the team has been crippled by injuries, but the ladies are looking to move forward the rest of the season. The team is now 1-5 in the WAC after defeating Chicago State Oct. 12 with a score 3-2.

That record represents a large drop from their preseason record, though Yale notes the team lost two of its strongest players and other athletes are injured. These players include outside hitter Diara Reynolds and libero Nausheen Merchant, both juniors.

“Two we anticipate are out for the season and then we are waiting on results from others,” Yale said.

Having these two players and others out has affected the team and according to Yale is one of the reasons for the dramatic shift. The season continues when the Broncs play at the UTPA Field House Oct. 21 against Grand Canyon University.

“We’ve lost some key starters, so we’ve had to readjust line ups…we are not playing bad players, they are just inexperienced,” Yale said.

According to Yale, Reynolds and Merchant are two key passers whose job is to keep the ball in the air to maintain the opportunity for offensive play and is why the absence has made such a difference.

“They passed for us and if you struggle passing the ball then you’re going to struggle in the rest of the game,” the coach explained. “That little extra push that we needed we didn’t necessarily have.”

Despite the recent loss of the starters, outside hitter Krysta Freitas is looking forward to fighting through what’s left of the conference. She also explains how the 10-5 non-conference season start put pressure on the team to do well and the rash of injuries didn’t help.

“We felt it as a team and coming into the WAC we knew it was going to be very different,” junior Freitas said. “That’s when we had to dig hard and having our two top players be injured was a hit on us. We had to dig deep into each other and not individualize and separate.”

Besides losing two of the starters on the team, they played the top four WAC teams consecutively. This included New Mexico State with a WAC record of 6-0, Utah Valley at 5-2 and the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a matching record of 5-2.

Though the string of losses continued, the game with Chicago State broke the five-game-losing streak.

In the wake of their first conference win, the Broncs will head off against old foes Utah Valley University and California State University Bakersfield before finally returning home.

The Bronc schedule has Yale on his feet and, according to him, although the season has had its ups and downs he believes his team can move forward.

“We still expect to win matches, it’s not like because of the injuries we expect to lose,” he said. “We are still putting the best team out there and I think it’s good enough to win matches for us. That’s the mentality, day in day out.”

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The competition starts

September 26th, 2013

With conference play only two days away, expectations rise as the Bronc volleyball team gets ready to face the New Mexico State Aggies, the defending Western Athletic Conference champions.

“We are using these pre-season games to better prepare for the upcoming WAC season. Winning and learning how to win has been important,” Head Coach Brian Yale said. “But competing against teams that are similar to our WAC opponent’s styles of play was equally important. It’s all about preparation.”

This is the first season the Broncs are in the WAC and will have a tough opponent in the conference opener. UTPA has a record of 10-6 this season and is off to one the best starts in University history, tied for second with the 1996 club behind the 1971 team with a record of 14-2.

“I look for us to keep getting better,” Yale said. “We are definitely better than we were three weeks ago, but we also know that we can continue to be even better.”

The Broncs will face off against the Aggies at 2 p.m. in the Field House. This will also be the Aggies’ first conference game, as they enter with a 5-8 overall record. The program begins their ninth season in the WAC and is 7-1 in conference openers. UTPA will be ready to try and make that mark 7-2.

“We are extremely excited to finally be in the WAC and can’t wait to start conference play,” said Maria Kliefoth, a redshirt junior middle blocker. “We have seen a lot of different teams in our tournaments with different skill sets which has given us a good idea of the talent we are up against in conference play.”

The Broncs have four straight home games, starting with New Mexico State Sept. 28 and ending with Seattle University Oct. 4.
“It will be nice to start play at home, definitely,” Yale said. “Of our first four opponents, only Utah Valley is familiar with our gym and location. I don’t know if it is an advantage but it certainly doesn’t hurt us at all.”

Yale said he thinks that a hectic non-conference schedule deprived the opportunity to practice enough, but over the past couple of weeks the women have gotten some of that time back in order to tweak a few things.

The team has been working on certain areas of improvement from earlier matches and the practice has allowed the Broncs the opportunity to be as ready as possible when it comes to WAC games.

“Winning and learning how to win has been important,” Yale said. “But competing against teams with similar play of our WAC opponent’s styles was equally important. It’s all about preparation.”

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Head coaches on air

September 25th, 2013

The University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Sept. 10 that 956Sports.com will carry all home Broncs volleyball broadcasts for the 2013 season and air a new head coach show.

As a new addition, the UTPA Broncs athletics will run new shows each week. These shows will be 30-minutes long and feature the Broncs’ head coaches.

The coaches that will be participating include: men’s basketball Head Coach Dan Hipsher, Broncs women’s basketball Head Coach Larry Tidwell and Broncs baseball Head Coach Manny Mantrana.

The basketball airings will begin during the week of Nov. 4 and run through the end of the basketball season. Following suit the baseball season show will begin to air on the the week of Feb. 17, close to the start of the season.

Joining the coaches on air is Jonah Goldberg who works for UTPA as an assistant athletic director for communications.

He will serve as both the volleyball play-by-play broadcaster during the live volleyball home games and will also host the coaches shows as a continuation from last year.

Sports 956 airs coach talk

The University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Sept. 10 that 956Sports.com will carry all home Broncs volleyball broadcasts for the 2013 season and air a new head coach show.

As a new addition, the UTPA Broncs athletics will run new shows each week. These shows will be 30-minutes long and feature the Broncs’ head coaches.

The coaches that will be participating include: men’s basketball Head Coach Dan Hipsher, Broncs women’s basketball Head Coach Larry Tidwell and Broncs baseball Head Coach Manny Mantrana.

The basketball airings will begin during the week of Nov. 4 and run through the end of the basketball season. Following suit the baseball season show will begin to air on the the week of Feb. 17, close to the start of the season.

Joining the coaches on air is Jonah Goldberg who works for UTPA as an assistant athletic director for communications.

He will serve as both the volleyball play-by-play broadcaster during the live volleyball home games and will also host the coaches shows as a continuation from last year.

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Coming up big in Big Daddy Tournament

September 21st, 2013

The University of Texas Pan American volleyball team announced on Saturday that redshirt-junior Maria Kliefoth and freshman Anjane Janda were named to the 2013 Big Daddy’s All-Tournament Team for their play over weekend.

“I am very happy with the way that both Maria and Anjane played throughout the course of the weekend,” Broncs Head Coach Brian Yale said. “They were both well deserving of the recognition they received.”

Janda had nine kills against Prairie View A&M, four kills against Louisiana-Monroe, 12 kills against McNeese State and nine against Southern Mississippi. She averaged 8.5 kills per match with seven blocks and eight digs.

Janda had nine kills against Prairie View A&M, four kills against Louisiana-Monroe, 12 kills against McNeese State and nine against Southern Mississippi. She averaged 8.5 kills per match with seven blocks and eight digs.

Kliefoth had a total of 34 kills for the entire tournament as she helped lead the Broncs to the finals of the tournament. Kliefoth recorded six kills against Prairie View A&M, eight against Louisiana-Monroe, 11 against McNeese State and nine against Southern Mississippi. She averaged 8.5 kills per match and added total 14 blocks.

“It’s an honor to be awarded all tournament,” said Kliefoth. “But this couldn’t be possible without the great play of my setter Nycole Masaki and our back row.”

For the season Kliefoth has 106 total kills out of 235 total attempts her 235 total attempts is third and 106 kills leads the Broncs this season.

Joining Kliefoth and Janda on the all-tournament team are Southern Mississippi’s Kristen Fleming and Elise Ames, Louisiana-Monroe’s Hadley Swartz, McNeese State’s Amber Fryer and Prairie View A&M’s Magda Zietek. Southern Mississippi’s Quinci Hayward was named tournament MVP.

Kliefoth credits her team-mate Masaki for her play and the success it brought at the Big Daddy Tournament.

“Nycole has done an amazing job spreading the ball around resulting in great opportunities for us middles,” Kliefoth said. “At a defensive standpoint, this makes it harder for the opposing block and creates more scoring opportunities for our team.”

The Broncs next game is Friday Sept. 20 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. in Corpus Christi. Yale expects the Islanders to play hard and to be well prepared, for it is a program he is familiar with due to the type of competition they bring every year when they battle. “So the key is to go in aggressive and limit our mistakes,” Yale said.

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