By Dave Wagner, Freedom Newspapers
About all you would need to know about Eastern New Mexico University’s match against Lone Star Conference South Division volleyball leader West Texas A&M on Tuesday night at Greyhound Arena is that the Lady Buffs had three players with more kills than anyone on the Zias’ roster.
ENMU hung with its rival for much of the second and third games, but the No. 24-ranked Lady Buffs were just too tough and cruised to a 30-14, 30-21, 30-23 victory over the Zias.
Senior outside hitter Jessica Scherr pounded out 18 kills and added 18 digs at WT (21-3, 5-0 South) stretched its winning streak to 16 matches.
Fellow outside hitters Natalie Johnson and Rachel Altman added 11 kills apiece for the Lady Buffs, while junior middle blocker Randi Egley led the Zias (6-18, 1-4) with 10.
ENMU coach Mike Maguire was most perturbed about his team’s relatively low hitting percentage. The Zias had only two more kills than attack errors (26-24), while WT compiled 59 kills and just 17 errors.
“You have to keep the ball in the court,” Maguire said. “Most of the errors were unforced.
“We didn’t play very smart tonight. To have a chance, we’ve got to play defense and then take advantage of it.”
The Zias were close to or ahead of WT in most other categories, but they managed only brief one-point leads at the start of each of the last two games.
ENMU pulled to within 20-19 in the second game on a kill by junior Jessie Macknicki before WT ran off 10 of the final 12 points. The Zias got as close as 26-23 in the third game, but Scheer’s kill and a block by Kelly Culley on Zias sophomore Vanessa Wilcox helped close it out.
“I was happy with our offense,” WT coach Tony Graystone said. “I’d like to see us do a little better job on serve-receive, but this isn’t an easy gym to play in.”
Their front row advantage helped the Lady Buffs overcome eight service errors, compared with just one for ENMU. The Zias were also even in total blocks with WT.
“I think we blocked better than we have been,” said Maguire, asked for bright spots for his team. “And we didn’t have many service errors. But it’s all about hitting for us.”
Graystone, who has taken several teams to national competition in recent years, said he likes the makeup of his current squad. He went to his bench in the third game and got four kills and four digs from freshman outside hitter Laura Prinsen and 12 assists from freshman setter Katie Rickwartz.
“This team blocks well and plays good defense,” he said. “And they’ve got just enough offense to get by.
“It’s a balanced, fairly deep team. We’ve got a lot of different players who can contribute.”