UT-Brownsville holds off Zias’ upset bid

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Things just aren’t going that well this season for the Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team.

The Zias never trailed in beating Texas-Brownsville in the first game Saturday, but dropped two tight games to the Scorpions after that and lost 26-30, 30-27, 30-21, 32-30 at Greyhound Arena.

The setback was the 12th in a row and 16th in the last 17 matches for the Zias (3-19) while UT-Brownsville, a second-year program ranked 22nd in the NAIA, improved to 19-5 overall and 5-1 against NCAA Division II competition.

Talita Milasauskas, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker from Sao Paulo, Brazil, had a dominant match for the Scorpions with 28 kills, 12 digs, 10 blocks (five solos) and a pair of aces. Junior outside hitter Claudia Alarcon of Lima, Peru, added 19 kills and a team-high 15 digs.

Five of the Scorpions’ 12 players are from outside the United States.

Senior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki had 16 kills for the Zias, while junior outside hitter Vanessa Wilcox had 14 kills and senior outside hitter Randi Egley added 12 kills and two block solos.

The Zias opened a 17-8 lead in the first game on a kill by Egley before the Scorpions closed to within two points late.

Sophomore Caitlin Murphy’s kill gave the Zias game point.

Brownsville controlled the second game, scoring the first two points and never relinquishing the lead. ENMU pared a seven-point deficit to one three times before Alarcon’s kill and a Zias ball-handling error closed it out.

The Scorpions also led the entire third game, opening a 16-6 lead and this time never letting the Zias closer than six points.

Neither team led by more than a point in the fourth game until a 5-0 run put Brownsville ahead 15-10.

The Scorpions led 23-16 before the Zias pulled even 30-30 with a 6-1 run capped by Macknicki’s klll, but Milasauskas put an end to it with back-to-back kills.

The Zias resume Lone Star Conference play this week with matches at Texas A&M-Commerce on Thursday and at Texas Woman’s on Saturday.