College volleyball: Zias earn first NCAA bid

Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University has garnered its first regional volleyball berth since joining the Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II in 1984 as the Zias were selected on Sunday for the eight-team Southwest Regional at Kearney, Neb.

ENMU (24-8) earned the No. 5 seed in the tournament, and meets Mesa State (Colo.) of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at 4 p.m. (MST) in the third of Friday’s four quarterfinal matches.

The teams met in a season-opening tournament hosted by Mesa State at Grand Junction, Colo., with the Mavericks winning in four games. Eastern gained an at-large bid to the regional by virtue of a 19-7 record in regional competition.
ENMU beat Central Oklahoma in four games before losing to eventual tournament champion Abilene Christian in four games in the LSC tournament over the weekend.
Sophomore middle blocker Grace George collected 20 kills and 15 total blocks in the two matches, and represented the Zias on the all-tournament team.

Unbeaten host Nebraska-Kearney (36-0) is the No. 1 seed in the event, and takes on fellow RMAC member Metropolitan State in Friday’s finale. Earlier first-round matches pit ACU, the LSC South’s regular-season champion, against Heartland Conference tournament champion St. Edward’s and Heartland regular-season champion Rockhurst against the RMAC’s Fort Hays State.

Semifinals are set for Saturday night, with the championship match at 2 p.m. (MST) on Sunday. The tournament winner advances to play the Pacific Region champion in the Elite Eight, scheduled for Dec. 2-4 at a site to be determined.

ENMU matches in the tournament will be available over the internet through the school’s agreement with TRZ/Teamline, sports information director Robert McKinney said, with ENMU graduate assistant for sports information Matt Brady doing play-by-play.

McKinney said a link to the broadcast can be found by going to