By Dave Wagner
Once again, the Eastern New Mexico University Zias showed they know what to do in the abbreviated fifth game of a volleyball match.
ENMU won for the 10th time in 11 five-game matches over the past two seasons — including 3-0 this year — by edging New Mexico Highlands 27-30, 30-21, 28-30, 30-22, 15-9 Tuesday night at Greyhound Arena.
While a five-gamer is usually easy for the crowd to get into, it’s not something the players do by design.
“We shouldn’t have made (Highlands) look as good as we did,” senior middle blocker Emilie Rodman said. “We didn’t play up to our best.”
ENMU coach Mike Maguire agreed with that assessment. While he admires his team’s never-give-up attitude, he said the Zias sometimes just make it hard on themselves.
“I’m concerned because we’re not playing with a lot of intensity and we’re not playing that smart,” said McGuire, whose team completed a three-game sweep at home and improved to 5-2 for the season.
Highlands (2-6) dominated the first game, but nearly let it get away late. Then the Zias nearly put a 13-point lead in jeopardy in Game 2 before three Cowgirls service errors killed any hopes of a comeback.
“I thought both teams were kind of playing back and forth,” Highlands coach Tom Duke said. “But Eastern stepped it up in the fifth game.”
The Zias forced a fifth game by taking control early in Game 4. Senior Anna Bellum had one attack dug up, then came back to finish the point for a 29-21 lead, then got the last point with a tip shot over Highlands’ block attempt.
The fifth game was tied when Highlands committed four consecutive attack errors, sending the Zias in front 11-7. Rodman helped finish it off by converting a couple of backsets from Margie Goble for points.
“That right side (where she attacked) doesn’t normally get set a whole lot,” Rodman explained, “so when we do that the defense is sometimes caught out of position.”
Bellum led four Zias in double figures in kills with 20. Junior Lindsay Schiely added 16 kills and 10 block assists, while senior libero Jessica Weeks had 26 digs.
ENMU 3, New Mexico Highlands 2
NM Highlands 30 21 30 22 9
ENMU 27 30 28 30 15
Kills — New Mexico Highlands, Julie Burdue 17, Audra Williams 15, Jasmine Morris 11, Kelsey Anderson 10. Eastern New Mexico, Anna Bellum 20, Lindsay Schiely 16, Emilie Rodman 12, Grace George 11. Block solos — New Mexico Highlands, none. Eastern New Mexico, none. Block assists — New Mexico Highlands, Burdue 8, Elisha Markely 4. Eastern New Mexico, Schiely 10, Margie Goble 8. Set assists — New Mexico Highlands, Kasey Frederickson 54. Eastern New Mexico, Goble 51. Digs — New Mexico Highlands, Frederickson 23, Lauren Noriega 22, Audra Williams 15. Eastern New Mexico, Jessica Weeks 26, Kelley McGinty 18, Bellum 13, Amber McCarthy 13. Aces — New Mexico Highlands, Burdue 3, Amber Pohl 2. Eastern New Mexico, Olivia Boan 2, McCarthy 2. Records — New Mexico Highlands 2-6, Eastern New Mexico 5-2. T — 2:15. A — 314.