By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University’s Mike Maguire downplayed his 400th victory as a college head coach.
Maguire’s Zias had little trouble dispatching winless Oklahoma Panhandle State 30-19, 30-17, 30-23 Tuesday night at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (7-15) returns to the rugged Lone Star Conference South Division Thursday night at rival West Texas A&M trying to make a final push to salvage what has been a disappointing season.
“It’s a win,” Maguire said after improving to 400-253 in 20 seasons, including 385-238 in 19 years at ENMU. “We’ll do what we can do (the rest of the way). We’ll try to play spoiler (to some teams) and see if we can get into the conference tournament.
“We’ll have our hands full Thursday night. (WT is) playing pretty well right now.”
The Zias had little trouble snapping a five-match losing streak against a Lady Aggies team (0-25) that has won just five games all season.
Senior middle blocker Lindsay Schiely overpowered Panhandle at the net, finishing with 19 kills and no hitting errors on 26 attacks.
“It went really well tonight,” she said of the match. “I’m glad some of our freshmen who normally don’t get to play that much got into it.”
Schiely knows the competition picks up big-time the rest of the way. The Zias will need a major late-season push — probably winning the LSC tournament and advancing into NCAA Division II regional play — to extend the program’s streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons.
It’s been tough on Schiely, who has been the Zias’ top player all season.
“It’s disappointing, not only for our team but for coach,” she said of the season. “But it’s nothing you can sit and dwell on. We’re trying to pull out all the wins we can.”
Panhandle, in its third season of volleyball, led twice by a point in the second game and three times by a point early in the third, but couldn’t sustain anything long enough to challenge the Zias.
“We didn’t look very sharp,” Maguire said. “I thought Lindsay was ready to play as always. She’s just solid.”
Senior outside hitter Amber Davis added nine kills for Eastern.
Panhandle sophomore outside hitter Katie Denning had nine kills, seven digs and a couple of aces.