By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The Eastern New Mexico Zias snapped a five-match losing skid and beat New Mexico Highlands Wednesday at Greyhound Arena three games to two.
The scores were 30-23, 24-30, 30-20, 28-30, 15-9.
With the match tied at two games each, the home team dominated the fifth and tiebreaking game, building a quick 10-5 lead and taking advantage of six consecutive Highlands hitting errors to win 15-9.
“It feels amazing,” sophomore Caitlin Murphy said. “Because we were in a rut and we really needed this, so it feels amazing to get out of that.”
“We knew it was going to be a tough match, just because this is the third time we’ve played Highlands,” first-year Zia head coach Kim Falkenhagen said. “So it’s a grudge match all the way.”
The first game was tied 10-10, before Highlands scored nine-of-11 points to take a 19-12 lead, but the Zias took advantage of five straight Cowgirl hitting errors to take a 20-19 lead. The ENMU women held onto their lead and won the first game 30-23.
The second game was tied 16-16 before Highlands built up a 29-20 lead. The Zias scored four straight points, but it was too late, as the Cowgirls tied the match with a 30-24 win.
The third game was knotted at 13-13, when the Zias scored 11-of-13 points highlighted by two serving aces by senior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki and two kills and two blocks by junior outside hitter Vanessa Wilcox. The Zias closed out the third game taking 10 of the last 12 points including four kills by Macknicki to win 30-20.
The fourth game followed suit, tied at 20-20 before the Cowgirls jumped out to a 28-22 lead. The Zias scored six-of-seven to make it close, but Highlands tied the match once more, taking the fourth game 30-28.
Macknicki led the Zias with 19 kills, followed by Wilcox’s 13 winners. Freshman setter Karen McIntyre collected 40 assists to lead the Zias and Macknicki and junior Nicole Vanderploeg each had 16 digs.
“We did well,” Falkenhagen said. “We’ve been working through some things and they’ve been fighting each game and it’s good to see them fight forward each time.”
“We knew we had to win this one because it’s our gym,” Murphy said. “It’s unacceptable (to lose), we had to show them how it’s done.”
The Zias (3-7) begin a seven-game road trip Friday at Henderson State in Searcy, Ark.