Top-ranked Lopers knock out Zias

PNT Staff

KEARNEY, Neb. — The Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team, making the program’s first trip to postseason competition since the school joined NCAA Division II 20 years ago, advanced to Saturday’s Southwest Regional semifinals where the Zias were eliminated by top-ranked and unbeaten host Nebraska-Kearney 30-20, 30-18, 30-26 before 2,743 fans.
Fifth-seeded ENMU (25-9) won its first-round match on Friday, edging fourth seed Mesa State 30-24, 30-27, 28-30, 30-32, 15-13.
Nebraska-Kearney (38-0), which has lost only three games all season and none on its homecourt, advanced to Sunday’s 2 p.m. (MST) championship match against Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rival Fort Hays State. The winner goes to the Elite Eight, scheduled for Dec. 2-4.
“I thought we played really well,” ENMU coach Mike Maguire said of the weekend. “The kids played with a lot of heart out there, and we made a nice showing.”
The Zias trailed most of the way against UNK, but pushed the Lopers in the third game. ENMU led twice by a point early, then closed a six-point deficit to 27-25 on a kill by senior Kelley McGinty, who led the team for the match with 11 kills.
The Zias stayed alive at 29-26 on a kill by junior Lindsay Schiely, but Kearney’s Erin Gudmundson closed it out with a kill.
Gudmundson led four Lopers in double figures in kills with 12.
“We were severely outsized, but the kids played well,” Maguire said. “I don’t think we were clicking on all cylinders, or it might have been a closer match.”
Schiely led the Zias against Mesa State with a season-high 25 kills while committing just one attack error. She also was in on a team-high seven blocks.
The Zias were within two points of closing out the match in three games (28-27), and saw a 29-26 lead slip away in Game 4 when the Mavericks scored six of the final seven points.
Mesa State (22-10) then opened leads of 8-5 and 10-8 in the fifth, but ENMU pulled even 11-11 on a kill by senior Anna Bellum, who had 16 kills and 16 digs for the match. Schiely then converted two kills for a 13-11 lead, and Bellum’s kill closed out the match.
“It was a match that could’ve gone either way,” Maguire said. “I thought we were going to finish it in three, but then they kind of got the momentum.”

Friday’s quarterfinals
ENMU 3, Mesa State 2
ENMU 30 30 28 30 15
Mesa State 24 27 30 32 13
Kills —
Eastern New Mexico, Lindsay Schiely 25, Anna Bellum 16, Grace George 12, Kelley McGinty 10. Mesa State, Stacey Vogel 19, Drew Choules 17, Nikki Green 17, Lauren Powley 16. Block solos — Eastern New Mexico, George 1. Mesa State, Vogel 2, Krista Bellman 1. Block assists — Eastern New Mexico, Schiely 7, George 5, Margie Goble 5, McGinty 4. Mesa State, Bellman 2, four tied with 1. Set assists — Eastern New Mexico, Goble 34, Amber McCarthy 26. Mesa State, Krug 67. Digs — Eastern New Mexico, McGinty 23, Bellum 16, McCarthy 16, Jessica Weeks 11. Mesa State, Vogel 20, Green 15, Choules 14, Allison Krug 12, Kehau Regidor 10. Aces — Eastern New Mexico, McCarthy 3, Weeks 2, three tied with 1. Mesa State, Choules 2, Brittney Ray 2, Regidor 2, three tied with 1. Records — Eastern New Mexico 25-8, Mesa State 22-10. T — 2:05. A — 1,113.

Saturday’s semifinals
Neb.-Kearney 3, ENMU 2
ENMU 20 18 26
Neb.-Kearney 30 30 30
Kills —
Eastern New Mexico, McGinty 11, Anna Bellum 9. Neb.-Kearney, Erin Gudmundson 21, Erin Arnold 15, Erin Brooz 10, Kelli Bunger 10. Block solos — Eastern New Mexico, Grace George 1. Neb.-Kearney, Gudmundson 1. Block assists — Eastern New Mexico, Schiely 4, Goble 3, George 2, McGinty 2. Neb.-Kearney, Brooz 2, Bunger 2. Set assists — Eastern New Mexico, Goble 20, McCarthy 15. Neb.-Kearney, Bethany Spilde 54. Digs — Eastern New Mexico, McCarthy 10, Olivia Boan 9. Neb.-Kearney, Arnold 17, Brett McCurdy 8. Aces — Eastern New Mexico, none. Neb.-Kearney, Bunger 2, Arnold 1, Spilda 1. Records — Eastern New Mexico 25-9, Neb.-Kearney 38-0. T — 1:05. A — 2,743.

NCAA Southwest Regional
At Kearney, Neb.
All Times MST
(Seeds in parentheses)
Friday’s quarterfinals
St. Edward’s (6) def. Abilene Christian (3) 30-28, 30-23, 30-22
Fort Hays State (2) def. Rockhurst 23-30, 23-30, 30-25, 30-27, 15-9
Eastern New Mexico (5) def. Mesa State (4) 30-24, 30-27, 28-30, 30-32, 15-13
Neb.-Kearney (1) def. Metro State 30-10, 30-17, 30-26
Saturday’s semifinals
Fort Hays State def. St. Edward’s 16-30, 30-16, 23-30, 30-28, 17-15
Neb.-Kearney def. Eastern New Mexico 30-20, 30-18
Sunday’s final
Fort Hays State vs. Neb.-Kearney, 2 p.m.