By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University 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.
The Zias trailed only three times Thursday night and rode a steady attack from Wortman, Lindsay Schiely and Grace George 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 for the fourth time in six matches, Eastern (4-8, 1-0 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 TexAnns comeback.
Tarleton (8-6, 0-3 South) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third game. The TexAnns had never seriously threatened to 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 TexAnns hitting error to push in front 17-16.
“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 team behind Schiely. She was followed by George (eight) and Amber Davis (seven).
Zias 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 (against Kingsville on) 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 its 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.
Lone Star Conference South
ENMU 3, Tarleton State 0
Tarleton State 20 21 28
ENMU 30 30 30
Kills — Tarleton State, Desiree Reed 11, Jennifer Douglass 7, Allison Hill 7, Julie Hamilton 6. Eastern New Mexico, Lindsay Schiely 11, Rhea Wortman 9, Grace George 8, Amber Davis 7, Kristi Britain 6. Block solos — Tarleton State, Amy Rice 1. Eastern New Mexico, George 1. Block assists — Tarleton State none. Eastern New Mexico, George 4, Marcie LeGrand 4, Schiely 4, Davis 3. Digs — Tarleton State, Christina Ortiz 11, Hill 10, Reed 9, three tied with 6. Eastern New Mexico, Britain 14, Vanessa Wilcox 13, Wortman 10. Aces — Tarleton State, Hamilton 3, Ortiz 2. Eastern New Mexico, Wortman 3, Kara Killian 2. Assists — Tarleton State, Ortiz 25. Eastern New Mexico, Killian 17, Kathryn McCannell 16. Records — Tarleton State 8-7 (0-3), Eastern New Mexico 4-8 (1-0). T — 1:27. A — 250.