Zias break losing streak with win over Pioneers

ENMU junior Randi Egley (6) collected 18 kills and 13 digs in the Zias’ four-game win over Wayland Baptist on Monday night at Greyhound Arena. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — Whatever Eastern New Mexico University’s volleyball team did Monday night, junior Randi Egley hopes the Zias can sustain it.

Mired in a nine-match losing streak, ENMU finally broke away from Wayland Baptist with a 17-3 run to end the third game and the Zias went on to a 30-27, 23-30, 30-15, 30-25 win over the Pioneers on Monday night at Greyhound Arena.

“I haven’t been playing that much,” said Egley, a junior-college transfer who had a match-high 18 kills and 13 digs for ENMU (4-11). “I haven’t been passing the ball all that well, but I’ve been working on it in practice.”

The Zias did not want to have to go to a fifth-game, where they are 0-5 this season.

“We’re not a 3-11 team,” she said. “We just hit a rough spot, but we’re over that now.

“I thought we played pretty good, definitely a lot better than we have been. We can play better, honestly; we’re going to play better teams, so we’ll have to play better.”

ENMU coach Mike Maguire said the Zias cleaned up a lot of their hitting errors in putting away Wayland (7-5), which dropped to 0-4 against NCAA Division II competition. Against the NAIA-member Pioneers, the Zias had 18 attack errors compared with 70 kills.

“It’s been all about unforced errors, especially in fifth games,” Maguire said. “We kept the unforced errors relatively low, and we gave ourselves a chance tonight.”

Junior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki added 16 kills and was in on five blocks (two solos), while freshman right side hitter Megan Kazakoff came off the bench for 12 kills. Combined, they had only five attack errors.

After the teams seesawed for most of the first 2 1/2 games, the Zias started their decisive run with a kill from junior middle blocker Vicki Charvat. Marcie LeGrand and Charvat followed with a combination block against Wayland’s Hailey Clark, and the Zias were off to the races.

“They served us off the court at the end of the second game,” Wayland coach Bob Howard said. “We just couldn’t get anything under control.”

Howard, in his second year, is trying to build a program which two years ago went 5-26 and last year improved to 13-22.

“We’re hoping to (finish at least) .500 this year,” Howard said. “It’s a process; it’s not going fast enough for our taste. But we’ve got competitive, athletic kids.”

Junior Stephanie Willett, playing libero for the first time after moving from setter, had a match-high 25 digs for the Zias. Caitlin Murphy was moved to a setter position from libero, and compiled 24 assists.

Senior outside hitter Randi Trew had 13 kills for the Pioneers.