By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University volleyball coach Mike Maguire wasn’t happy with his team’s play Friday night against Lubbock Christian at Greyhound Area, but at least the Zias came out on top.
“I will say we fought to the end,” McGuire said after ENMU nailed down a 30-28, 29-31, 31-29, 27-30, 15-12 win over the Lady Chaps. “We didn’t serve well at all, and I don’t think our intensity was that good.
“It’s a good thing we showed some willpower to stay in there and give ourselves a chance.”
Neither team could get very far away from the other — LCU’s biggest lead was five points on three occasions in the first game, ENMU’s was six points twice in the third.
The Zias continued their uncanny success in five-game matches over the past two seasons. They’ve gone 9-1, including 2-0 this year.
“We definitely have a lot we need to clean up,” said ENMU senior outside hitter Anna Bellum, whose team-high 21st kill on an LCU overpass produced the final point in the 2 1/2-hour marathon. “But we’re already way ahead of where we were last year.”
The Zias (4-2) trailed 11-6 and 12-7 in the first game, and didn’t catch the Lady Chaps (6-4) until senior Emilie Rodman converted a backset from Margie Goble to tie the score 20-20. Eastern went ahead for good on an LCU hitting error and held on.
Neither team led by more than two points in the second game, but Lubbock Christian fought off two game points to even the match.
Eastern held on in the third game after building a 19-13 lead when Rodman and junior Amber Davis teamed up to block the Lady Chaps’ Kenay Carter. Bellum’s kill put the Zias in front 30-29, and an LCU hitting error gave ENMU a 2-1 lead.
Eastern led 20-15 in the fourth game before the Lady Chaps went on a 9-1 run featuring two kills from Karlie Bane and a kill and a block by Magan McCormick. Rodman’s kill started a 4-0 run that pulled the Zias out of a 3-3 tie in the fifth game.
“We really could’ve ended a couple of those games earlier, but they’re a good team,” Bellum said. “Last year they beat us twice, so we wanted to get them.”
Bellum is among several Zias back from last year’s 16-15 squad, and said having that base has helped.
“We don’t have to use this time to get to know each other,” she said.
Sophomore Grace George, coming off an ankle injury sustained in the season-opening Mesa State tournament last weekend, was held out until the final game against the Lady Chaps. She contributed a kill and two block assists.
“We were hoping to save her for Tuesday night (against New Mexico Highlands at Greyhound Arena),” Maguire said.
The Zias complete their three-game homestand with Tuesday’s 7 p.m. matchup against the Cowgirls. After that, ENMU won’t play at home again until Oct. 14 against Lone Star Conference South Division foe Texas A&M-Kingsville.