By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
Zia freshman volleyball player Rhea Wortman points to better chemistry for the team’s recent success. Her coach hopes that chemistry hasn’t produced fool’s gold.
Eastern New Mexico trailed only three times Thursday night and rode a steady attack from Wortman, Lindsay Schiely and Grace George en route to a 30-20, 30-21, 30-28 sweep of Tarleton State in a Lone Star Conference South Division match at Greyhound Arena.
In winning its second-straight and fourth in six matches, Eastern (4-8, 1-0 LSC South) dominated throughout and was led by Schiely, who had three of her team-high 11 kills during a 10-2 third game run that shut down any hopes of a TexAnn comeback.
Tarleton (8-7, 0-3 South) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third game, but never seriously threatened until that point as the Zias built quick leads in each of the first two stanzas.
“(The quick starts) made a big difference,” Wortman said, “but as a team, we were a lot more fluid and our chemistry was there.
“We not only started off strong, we stayed strong throughout the match.”
The Zias slowly rallied back in the third game, but went up for good with a Schiely kill and a TexAnn hitting error to push the score to 17-16 in favor of ENMU.
“Normally, we would let up (in that situation),” Wortman said. “In this game, I think we really kept our confidence.”
Wortman had nine kills to finish second on the Zia squad and was followed by George (eight) and Amber Davis (seven) for the team lead.
Zia coach Mike Maguire was pleased with his team’s effort after the game, but had a sense of cautious optimism with Texas A&M-Kingsville coming in Saturday.
“I think the passing improved (late in the match),” Maguire said. “That was the biggest difference. We’ll see how much it improved Saturday.”
Kara Killian and Kathryn McCannell split the assists for the Zias, with 17 and 16, respectively.
The TexAnns were led by Desiree Reed with 13 kills, but their best hitter was arguably on the coaching staff.
Christabell Mariner, a TSU assistant who played for the Zias from 1999 to 2002, still holds the Zia career kills record with 1,695.
After facing Texas A&M-Kingsville, the Zias will finish up their homestand against Lubbock Christian on Tuesday before heading back on the road Thursday to face Abilene Christian.