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UTRGV, the defending Western Athletic Conference (WAC) volleyball champions, opened WAC play with a25-16, 25-23, 18-25, 25-23 victory over the UT Arlington Mavericks on Thursday at College Park Center.

Junior Perris Key led the Vaqueros (7-7, 1-0 WAC) with 15 kills on .333 hitting, nine digs, three blocks and one ace. Junior Luanna Emiliano dished out 41 assists with 16 digs, a season-high tying four aces, four kills and one block for her eighth double-double. Juniors Margherita Giani and Ilana De Assis and freshman Nadine Zech all finished with eight kills. Assis added seven digs, two assists, an ace, and a block. Junior Kiaraliz Perez posted 16 digs and four assists.

Brianna Ford led the Mavericks (11-3, 0-1 WAC) with 15 kills, four digs and four blocks.

A pair of kills by senior Luisa Silva Dos Santos helped the Vaqueros score the first five points of the match. Then, with the score 6-2, the Vaqueros used a 6-0 run, capped by a Key kill, to go up 12-2 and cruise to a first set victory.

The Vaqueros went up 6-3 on a pair of Assis kills to open the second set. The Mavericks responded with a 6-1 run to go up 9-7. The Mavericks still led at 15-11 when the Vaqueros won five-straight serves, capped by a Giani kill, to regain the lead. The set stayed tight from there, with the Mavericks going up 23-21 before two errors and two Key kills ended the set.

After dropping the third set, Emiliano opened the fourth set with an ace to set the tone, as the Vaqueros served up six aces to clinch the victory.

The Vaqueros visit Stephen F. Austin on Saturday at 12 p.m. Fans can watch domestically on ESPN+ or internationally via WAC International.