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Bittersweet Durham breaks record in UTRGV loss

 

Vaquero volleyball welcomed Utah Valley University today for the fourth home conference match of the season. UTRGV lost 3-1, with set scores of 23-25, 21-25, 25-22 and 23-25.

UTRGV’s record moves to 8-13 overall and 1-6 in the Western Athletic Conference.

The first set was tightly contested with neither team breaking away to take control of the match. It was the Wolverines, however, that earned the opening set victory, 25-23.

The first set was a historic because it was then when senior Haley Durham broke the program record for career block assists. Her five block assists in the match raised her career total to 255, surpassing Danielle Holthe’s former record of 250.

Durham also is climbing higher on the total block career record. Her six blocks in today’s match brought her to 313 in her career. She needs 11 more blocks to become the all-time program leader.

After the match, she had some time to reflect on the accomplishment.

“It feels good to break a record,” said Durham, who has played in Edinburg since 2012. “It shows good coaching and improvement.”

Durham said it is not so much pressure to perform but responsibility to the team that has helped the four-year starter become one of the best the team has seen.

“Not so much pressure, it’s more I need to do it for my team to win and make it to the next level,” she said.

Head Coach Todd Lowery has only coached Durham for one season but recognizes the consistency she provides in the middle of the court.

“She’s been here, a four-year starter,” said Lowery, the former NAIA coach of the year. “Just consistent in the middle. Haley’s a great volleyball player. When our outsider players do a better job of setting the block, then she’s allowed to close and she has a lot of success.”

The second set went 25-21 to the visitors in another frame that was close throughout, which proved to be the theme of the match. The 2-0 lead that Utah Valley built came from set wins only totaling to six more than the home team.

The third set was the first win for the Vaqueros, who held off a Wolverine comeback to win 25-22. The set created momentum but the next one turned into yet another back-and-forth game with the wrong result.

Set four (23-25), the clinching set for the visitors, had the potential of a comeback win but was foiled to end the Vaqueros’ bid to force a decisive fifth set.

Lowery highlighted positives from his team that was competitive in every match.

“We quit worrying so much about what was happening on the scoreboard,” the head coach said. “We’re rebuilding this program; it’s a young program. Those are the things that are more important. That’s what I told the girls right after the match. It was a great effort and if they continue to put that effort in those one or two balls that didn’t roll our way today, [they] will eventually.”

THURSDAY

In Thursday’s action, it was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Seattle University. The Redhawks won the match with set scores of 12-25, 16-25, 25-23 and 11-25.

The Vaqueros’ single-set victory, in the third, was a product of a comeback from a deficit that was as wide as 3-11 at one point.

Contributing for the Vaqueros in Thursday’s losing effort were regular performers Alisha Watson and Bojana Mitrovic with eight kills apiece. San Benito alum Kasey Sanchez added 18 digs.

From visiting Seattle University, Martina Samadan led the match with 12 kills. Her teammate, Jelena Vujcin, notched 11 kills as well as 10 digs and five blocks.
The Redhawks left Edinburg improving their record to 4-2 in the WAC.

UTRGV will be in action again Monday in New Orleans for a nonconference game and return home Oct. 24 when they face New Mexico State, conference frontrunners.

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