By Dave Wagner
After playing most of its pre-Lone Star Conference South Division schedule on the road, home cooking has been just what the doctor ordered for the Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team.
Coming off a solid three-game victory over Tarleton State in their Friday night South opener, the Zias followed it up with a 30-25, 30-28, 30-13 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday at Greyhound Arena.
Junior outside hitter Anna Bellum had 11 kills and freshman middle blocker Grace George was involved in 10 block assists — including three in a row which finally broke the Javelinas’ backs in the third game after the Zias (7-10, 2-0) won tight first and second games.
“They’re much-improved; I was a little worried,” ENMU coach Mike Maguire said of TAMK (4-15, 0-2), which took a game off six-time South champion West Texas A&M on Friday night. “I think the biggest difference for us is we’re just starting to play together. It seemed like every time (Kingsville) got close, we responded.”
ENMU trailed only briefly early in all three games and the Javelinas couldn’t regroup after falling two games behind. The Zias secured the win with the three blocks involving George — two teaming with Bellum and one with Kristen VanWettering — for a 23-11 lead in the third game.
“We had a lot of energy coming off last night’s (match against Tarleton), and with a 2-0 lead it kind of gave us confidence,” Bellum said. “Our blocking has improved tremendously. I think Grace and Emilie (Rodman) did a good job of closing the blocks. It was obviously a team effort.”
TAMK, more athletic than its record indicates, was led by 13 kills from sophomore outside hitter Melanie Biggerstaff.
Juniors Kelley McGinty and Jennifer Bullock led a strong defensive effort for the Zias with 10 and eight digs, respectively. ENMU completes a four-game homestand Tuesday night against West Texas A&M.
“I think this was a great lift going into WT,” Bellum said. “I’m kind of glad we got to start conference at home. I think that can set the tone for how we play the rest of the year.”
ENMU 3, Tarleton St. 0
The Zias posted a relatively easy win 30-15, 30-25, 32-30 over the TexAnns, led by 18 kills from Bellum and 14 from Rodman. Bellum had just two hitting errors in the match, and Rodman had none.
Crystal White and Lacey Adkisson had 12 kills each for TSU (6-11, 0-1), which played at WT on Saturday.