By Kevin Wilson
Anna Bellum led three Zias in double figures with 22 kills, and the Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team staved off a late New Mexico Highlands comeback in a five-set victory Tuesday night at Greyhound Arena.
Eastern (4-7) got 17 kills from Emilie Rodman and 11 from Kelley McGinty in a 30-25, 21-30, 30-24, 24-30, 15-12 win over the visiting Cowgirls in a rubber match. Highlands (6-5) split the previous two matches with ENMU, both at Las Vegas, N.M.
The Zias were inconsistent in their long-awaited home opener, but the Cowgirls returned the favor. Second-year Highlands coach Bruce Todd said his team’s biggest problem was that it would pick and choose when to play its best volleyball.
Veteran Zia coach Mike Maguire could relate.
“I think this past weekend, when we went down to Lawton (Oklahoma for the Southwest Regional Challenge), they kind of came together as a unit,” Maguire said, “and that’s what helped them out in the fifth game.
“We’re not consistent by any means.”
The Zias never pulled away from NMHU throughout the match, and saw a 21-19 lead in the fourth game slip away at the hands of the Cowgirl front line. Nikki Revling, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker, helped force a fifth game with a pair of aces and a kill during a game-ending 6-1 run.
Audra Williams led four Cowgirls in double figures with 24 kills, while Kindy Peterson had 18 and Christina Carle 16. Revling had 14 kills to go with a match-high four service aces.
The Zias capitalized on Highlands errors late in the fifth and deciding game, as a Bellum kill highlighted a 7-0 run to make the score 14-9. Highlands rallied with three straight points, but gave up the final point on a hitting error.
“They just make a little surge there at the end and we just didn’t have an answer,” Todd said. “They were aggressive, they took that game from us.”
The Zias go back on the road this weekend for the Lone Star Conference Crossover Tournament in Wichita Falls, Texas. Next week, the Zias start a four-match homestand, something Maguire is looking forward to.
“I am,” Maguire said, “but those teams that are coming in are playing pretty good, so we’ve got to get our stuff together.”