Zia junior middle blocker Grace George rises to try to block a kill attempt from West Texas A&M outside hitter Jessica Scherr in the third game of Tuesday’s match at Greyhound Arena. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — After an 0-6 start this season, the Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team has shown signs of progress.
On Tuesday night, though, the Zias were guilty of too many mistakes to beat rival West Texas A&M, falling to the Lady Buffs 30-25, 29-31, 30-24, 30-23 in a Lone Star Conference South Division match at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (6-11, 2-3 South) played well in the second game, but barely held on. Then each time the Zias got close in the latter part of the third and fourth games, the Lady Buffs made enough plays to pull away.
ENMU coach Mike Maguire said he was disappointed with the Zias’ effort.
“I think we played harder against Lubbock Christian (in a five-game win last week) that we did against WT, and that’s perplexing,” he said. “I thought it would be a feisty competition, but it was pretty low-key.”
The Lady Buffs (17-7, 4-1) had gone more than three games in just four matches coming in, but the Zias weren’t able to get them to a fifth game.
Junior outside hitters Jessica Scherr and Rachel Altman led WT with 20 and 17 kills, respectively. Altman, a lefty, seemed to have the Zias guessing most of the night on which way she was going with her attacks.
“She does a nice job of hitting around the block,” WT coach Tony Graystone said. “It was good for us to get some offense from her.
“Even when we try to block her in practice, we have a hard time.”
Eastern got out to leads early in all four games, but couldn’t sustain it. Even in the third game, when the Zias built a 16-9 margin, they had to rally from a pair of late one-point deficits to nail the game down.
“We had a lot of unforced errors tonight,” Maguire said, “and you can’t beat (WT) that way.”
Junior middle blocker Grace George tied Scherr for game honors with 20 kills on 38 attacks, while senior middle blocker Lindsay Schiely added 13 kills. Both had good hitting percentages, but the rest of the Zias struggled — at least in part because of inconsistent sets.
Still, Graystone said he was just glad to get out with a win.
“Eastern’s just tough,” he said. ‘They do things to slow you down and take you out of your rhythm.”
Lone Star Conference South
West Texas A&M 3, ENMU 1
West Texas A&M 30 29 30 30
ENMU 25 31 24 23
Kills — West Texas A&M, Jessica Scherr 20, Rachel Altman 17, Megan Spivey 13. Eastern New Mexico, Grace George 20, Lindsay Schiely 13. Block solos — West Texas A&M, Spivey 4, Kelly Culley 2. Eastern New Mexico, none. Block assists — West Texas A&M, Altman 3, Spivey 3, Scherr 2. Eastern New Mexico, George 4, Kristi Britain 2, Schiely 2. Digs — West Texas A&M, Brittani Bell 16, Erin Houlihan 14, Altman 13, Sara Contraras 13, Scherr 11. Eastern New Mexico, Vanessa Wilcox 15, Kathryn McCannell 12, Kara Killian 11, Rhea Wortman 10. Aces — West Texas A&M, Houlihan 3, Altman 1, Bell 1. Eastern New Mexico, Britain 1, George 1. Assists — West Texas A&M, Houlihan 55. Eastern New Mexico, McCannell 26, Killian 19. Records — West Texas A&M 17-7 (4-1), Eastern New Mexico 6-11 (2-3). T — 1:48. A — 710.