By Dave Wagner
CANYON, Texas — In a relatively even match, service problems were costly to the Eastern New Mexico University Zias Thursday night.
ENMU had 13 service errors — many at critical times — and just three aces in dropping a 30-25, 30-26, 25-30, 30-26 decision to Texas Woman’s in a Lone Star Conference tournament quarterfinal at The Box.
Middle blocker Jenny Madrid, a 6-foot-1 junior from Panama, recorded 19 kills as the Pioneers (16-18), seeded second from the LSC North, advanced to a semifinal match tonight against host and South Division champion West Texas A&M.
Central Oklahoma, the North’s top seed which also had a first-round bye, will take on Cameron after the Aggies outlasted Abilene Christian 30-16, 29-32, 28-30, 30-26, 15-10 in Thursday’s opening matchup.
TWU, which shared the North title with UCO and Cameron at 8-2 after going just 2-15 in pre-division play, rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the fourth game with 15 of the next 18 points and the Zias (16-15) were unable to catch up.
“We didn’t play as well as we could,” first-year TWU coach Shelly Barberee said. “We just have to shake off the nerves tomorrow for West Texas.
“A lot of the girls have never been in a match like this.”
ENMU was guilty of four service errors in each of the first two games and played from behind most of the time. But the Zias took the lead for good in game 3 on a kill by junior outside hitter Anna Bellum, eventually building a 29-21 margin before fighting off a late Pioneers rally.
Bellum, who had a match-high 24 kills, got one to finally put TWU away.
“We’re happy to be here,” Barberee said, noting that the Pioneers had not had been to the tournament since 1997. “That was a goal for us this year. Whatever we do from here is icing on the cake.”
Rodman finished with 18 kills for the Zias, while freshman Grace George had one block solo and eight block assists.
But ENMU coach Mike Maguire said his team’s miscues were too much to overcome.
“Our passing and serving were horrid; that’s what put us in a hole,” he said. “We hurt ourselves. When you’re talking about serving and passing, those are things where you’re in control.”
Both teams overcame slow starts this season — TWU went 2-15 before winning 12 in a row, including eight in division play, while the Zias were 7-12 at one point but mounted a late charge to salvage the program’s 15th consecutive winning season.
“For as poor a start as we had, we hung in there and finished pretty strong,” Maguire said. “It kind of gave us an idea of what our needs are and who we can count on for next year.”