CANYON, Texas — On paper, it was the Lone Star Conference’s biggest mismatch.
Fifth-ranked West Texas A&M made sure there was no major upset in Thursday’s Lone Star Conference and regular-season finale against Eastern New Mexico, beating the Zias 25-13, 25-14, 25-18.
With the win, WT (31-3, 13-0 LSC) extended its winning streak to 14 games while relegating ENMU (6-22, 0-13) to its 14th loss in 16 matches.
The Lady Buffs got 16 kills from senior middle blocker Melissa Harper and 11 kills from senior outside hitter Lauren Prinsen. Senior setter Katie Rickwartz had 44 assists on 50 team kllls, while junior outside hitter Lauren Thetford compiled 18 digs and freshman libero Lauren Beville added 15 digs.
The Zias got seven kills and 15 assists from junior Veronica Valdez-Kent and 19 kills from senior libero Caitlin Murphy, both of whom are from the Canyon area. Murphy finished her four-year ENMU career as the program’s leader in digs with 1,930 over 124 matches.
WT stormed to an 11-1 lead in the first set, but the Zias put together an 11-6 rally and closed to 17-12 on an ace by Valdez-Kent and an attack error by Prinsen. The Lady Buffs scored the next six points and quickly closed out the set.
ENMU led 2-0 early in the second game, but WT ran off nine of the next 10 points. The Zias got as close as five twice before the Lady Buffs pulled away.
The Zias led 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 in the third set, the latter on a kill by sophomore middle blocker Jessica King, but the Lady Buffs scored the next eight points. After WT opened an 11-point lead on Prinsen’s kill, the Zias got as close as six points twice before sophomore Lauren Purdy’s kill closed it out on match point.