Zias drop South opener

CNJ staff

ABILENE, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University’s volleyball team entered Lone Star Conference South Division play on a bit of a roll Thursday night, but the Zias couldn’t keep it going.

Abilene Christian had its hands full with ENMU most of the way, but the Wildcats rallied from an 18-13 deficit late in the third game to nail down a 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 win.

ENMU (5-12, 0-1 South) entered the game having won three of its previous four matches. That was the Zias’ best stretch since the 2005 campaign.

Sophomore middle blocker Shawna Hines had 12 kills and five total blocks for the Wildcats (12-2, 2-1), who finished the first game on an 11-5 run but had trouble putting the Zias away in each of the final two sets.

Sophomore outside hitter Veronica Valdez led ENMU with eight kills, while junior libero Caitlin Murphy compiled 18 digs.

Leading just 14-13, sophomore middle blocker Jordan Schilling ignited the Wildcats’ game-ending surge in the first set with a kill. Sophomore Grace Brandt’s ace helped ENMU open a 4-1 lead in the second game before the Wildcats rallied to build an 18-11 lead.

ENMU went on a 7-1 run and pulled to 19-18 on a kill from sophomore Grace Brandt, but the Zias couldn’t catch up.

In the third game, ENMU erased a three-point deficit with a 7-0 run that included a service error and four attack errors from Abilene Christian and Zias kills by Brandt and freshman Sarah Koch. The Wildcats, though, finished off the game on a 12-4 run, taking the lead for good 20-19 on back-to-back kills by Hines and freshman outside hitter Britni Golden.

ENMU continues its division road trip with a 1 p.m. (MDT) contest on Saturday at Angelo State.