ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Portland used a furious rally to win the second set and carried the momentum to a three-set sweep (23-25, 28-30, 13-25) over UTA volleyball to conclude the University of New Mexico's Lobo Classic, on Saturday afternoon at UNM's Johnson Center.
UTA (5-4) suffered the setback in three sets to Portland (6-2), a team that sports losses only to New Mexico and Oregon State. Portland finished second in the Lobo Classic, as UNM finished 3-0 in the tournament to win the event. UP totaled a .299 hitting percentage in the win over UTA, holding the Mavs to a .196 attacking percentage.
LEADING THE MAVS
Junior Zhanelle Geathers led the Maverick attack with 11 kills, adding five digs and two assists. Senior Qiana Canete, who joined Geathers on the preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team, totaled eight kills and eight digs. Sophomore Madison McConnell had a .462 attack percentage on seven kills, with freshman Kailyn Gilbreath pacing the team with 26 assists, adding five kills and nine digs. Freshman Tessa Harfield had four kills and freshman Cameryn Zahradnik finished with a career-best 11 digs. Libbie Vickers led the team with 12 digs.
The Mavs will return from a two-week road swing to host the Maverick Classic at College Park Center, starting on Thursday vs. UC Davis at 6 p.m. CT, with complete coverage available on UTAMavs.com.
Geathers, a native of Lindale, Texas, opened the scoring and the set rolled to 3-3 after a kill from McConnell. Portland then went on a 6-0 run to build a lead it would not relinquish in the set. UTA cut the lead to three after a kill from Geathers and Gilbreath to get to 2-9, but Portland stretched its lead to 19-13 after an attacking error from the Mavs. UTA fought back to tie the game at 23-23 with Gilbreath, Harfield, McConnell and Geathers recording points during the run but a 2-0 rally from Portland finished off the set, 25-23.
After falling behind 2-0 to open the set, the Mavs rallied behind Harfield, Canete and McConnell's kills to even the match at 3-3. With the match evened at 5-5, UTA took its first led of the match behind points from Gilbreath and Geathers. A serving roll from Madison Helt led to a 12-8 UTA lead and forced a Portland timeout. The Pilots found themselves down to the Mavs at 21-16 after a kill from Harfield but Portland went on a 5-0 run to even the match at 21-21 and force a timeout from Coach J.T. Wenger. This led to a nip-and-tuck finish in the second that saw the match tied at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 before Portland's 2-0 run finished the set at 30-28.
Portland cruised to the third set win after the momentum of the second set comeback. Portland opened with a 4-1 lead and the Mavs fought back to cut the lead to 9-7 behind a kill each from Canete, Geathers and McConnell. The Pilots stretched their lead to 13-9 and forced a UTA timeout, with Portland going on a 12-4 run to finish off the set, 25-13.
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For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics. Follow @UTAVolleyball on twitter and at UTAVolleyball on Facebook.