SAN ANTONIO — The UTSA volleyball team will return to The Alamo City this week as they head across town to compete against UIW and Oral Roberts as a part of the UIW Cardinal Classic at the McDermott Center. The Roadrunners will first face the Cardinals at 6 p.m. on Thursday before battling the Golden Eagles at 2 p.m. on Friday.
The Roadrunners (5-4, 0-0 AAC) will look to bounce back after a weekend that saw them go 1-2 at the Campbell Invitational in Buies Creek, N.C. The 'Runners picked up their lone victory in their first match at the invite, downing Georgia Southern in three sets before falling to host school Campbell and San Jose State. Sophomore Mia Soerensen provided a bright spot, earning an All-Tournament nod after posting 51.5 points on 47 kills and eight blocks.
As a team, UTSA continues to rank near the top of the American Athletic Conference in several statistics, sitting second in both hitting percentage at .240 and kills-per-set at 13.03.
The Cardinals (7-3, 0-0 SLC) have had a solid start to their 2023 campaign, picking up a pair of victories over Bethune-Cookman and Youngstown State at the Owl Classic, where they fell only to the host school Florida Atlantic. Additionally, UIW took on UTRGV earlier in the week, losing in three sets.
The matchup between UIW and UTSA will represent the first contest inside the McDermott Center on the season after UIW went 4-8 in home matches across 2022. Looking to continue their solid start, the Cardinals boast one of the most efficient attackers in the NCAA, with Annamarie Alvarez ranking sixth and atop the Southland Conference with a .500 hitting percentage and 2.29 kills-per-set. Another top performer, Allison Palmi leads the team with 113 kills, while Kyla Malone is not far behind with 99 terminations. UIW has recorded the 14th-most assists-per-set in the nation, with 13.25 as the tandem of Natalie Kimmel and Anuhea Faitau, each boasting figures over 5.50. Defensively, Annamarie Alvarez and Kade Thomas are the team's top blockers, each managing 28.
The Golden Eagles (2-8, 0-0 SL) have struggled early in the year, with wins only against Nicholls State and UC Riverside. ORU is looking to snap a four-game losing streak after dropping a contest against No. 20 Kansas and coming up empty at the Tulsa Invitational last week.
Despite the poor run of form, Trinity Freeman has provided a bright spot, leading the Summit League in kills-per-set with 3.52 and 113 on the season. Kalena Vaivai has been the team's top setter, with 260 assists to her total, and the Golden Eagles have two defensive specialists with over 100 digs in Breanna Rivas and Thaynara de Jesus. Additionally, Rivas paces the team in aces, logging 10.