STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Tarleton State pushed Eastern New Mexico University to the brink of a third consecutive winless Lone Star Conference season on Saturday, handing the Zias a 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 loss.
ENMU (5-22, 0-12 LSC) will have to beat conference champion West Texas A&M, ranked No. 6 in NCAA Division II, in the season finale on Thursday at Canyon to avoid the dubious feat. The Zias have dropped 42 consecutive matches in LSC play since a 3-2 win over Angelo State at Portales on Sept. 30, 2006, although they did beat East Central in five games during a tournament at Greyhound Arena early last season.
Shay Gracy, Rachel Wolf and Kendall Hanson all had nine kills for the TexAnns (9-19, 4-7), who trailed only at 1-0 in the first set and 13-12 in the second. Sophomore middle blocker Jessica King had eight kills and freshman outside hitter Rocio Ovalle added seven for the Zias.
Tarleton scored five consecutive points — three on ENMU attack errors — after Ovalle’s kill provided the first point of the match. The TexAnns stayed in front the rest of the game.
A kill by King started a 10-4 run in the second game that was capped by four consecutive ENMU kills — one by freshman Dallas Russell, two from Ovalle and another from freshman Megan Longoria — to wipe out an 8-3 deficit. The TexAnns then scored nine of the next 10 points to regain control, getting three kills from Hansen and an ace from Shea McBrearty in a span of five points.
The Zias erased a 4-0 deficit, pulling even 6-6 on a double-block by King and Grace Brandt, but Erin Lynn’s kill put the TexAnns back in front for good.
Tuesday night, the Zias step outside league play for a 7 p.m. match at New Mexico Highlands.