By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
For most of the first game, the Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team hung with Lone Star Conference South Division leader Abilene Christian on Thursday night.
Then, with the score tied 29-29, a borderline call on a Wildcats attack went the visitors’ way after originally it appeared it would go to ENMU. A Zias misplay then gave Abilene Christian the game, and the Wildcats went on to a 31-29, 30-19, 30-15 win.
Whether the questionable call would have made a difference is questionable, but the Zias (5-13, 0-2 South) never seriously challenged Abilene Christian the rest of the way.
ENMU coach Mike Maguire wasn’t about to cry foul, noting that the Zias had more attack errors (32) than kills and combined for only two blocks.
“We beat ourselves again,” he said. “It’s the story of the year.
“They (Wildcats) were attacking the ball. We were giving them free balls and hitting into double blocks all night.”
Neither team led by more than four points all the way through the first game, but the Wildcats (10-7, 4-0) led 2-0 and 4-0 at the start of each of the next two games and never relinquished the lead.
“We played pretty well tonight,” said first-year Wildcats coach Kellen Mock, a former player at Abilene Christian. “I was really pleased with the level of intensity. We’ve been working on our block, and we really turned that up in the last two games.”
Junior outside hitter Abbie Lowry had 19 kills to lead the Wildcats.
Lowry, freshman outside hitter Erin Curry and freshman middle blocker Krystine Cethoute generally had their way with the smaller Zias at the net.
Mock admitted the Zias’ lack of size helped her squad.
“Because they’re a little bit smaller, we could play our regular defense and dig balls that weren’t hit straight down,” she said.
She said it took her team a while to get going.
“It’s very difficult to walk into somebody’s gym and play well in the first game,” she said. “This is a tough gym for us to play in because Eastern always has incredible defense and they play well at home.”
Junior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki had 12 kills for the Zias, while junior libero Stephanie Willett had 19 digs. But ENMU had no one else in double figures in either category.