Zias aim to prove they belong

By Kevin Wilson
Staff writer
kwilson@cnjonline.com

Karra Day shouldn’t really be here.

That’s not to say the 5-foot-10 setter doesn’t belong on the court at Eastern New Mexico University, where she led the Zias with 494 assists last year. Rather, the native of Escondido, California, wasn’t the target in 2010 when New Mexico Military Institute coach Shelby Forchtner came to scout the Cougars. It was twin sister Kelli Day, but the plans changed when Kelli didn’t make the game and Karra played setter instead.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson Karra Day, who led the Zias in assists last season, sets a ball during Thursday  afternoon practice at Greyhound Arena. The Zias open the season Sept. 5 at the Lady Buff Classic at West Texas A&M.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Karra Day, who led the Zias in assists last season, sets a ball during Thursday
afternoon practice at Greyhound Arena. The Zias open the season Sept. 5 at the Lady Buff Classic at West Texas A&M.

The offer for the Broncos was then also extended to Karra, and she accepted.

“She (Kelli) didn’t want to go to a military school,” Day said, “and I figured, ‘Why not?’”

Now, with Day in her second year as a transfer, she and her Zias teammates are trying to prove they belong in a wide-open Lone Star Conference.

The Zias are entering their second season under former assistant Sia Poyer, who came back to his alma mater after eight years at Valdosta State. The Zias posted an 8-20 mark last year, with a 4-12 record in the Lone Star Conference, but bring back a deeper bench to a lineup that includes Day and LSC Freshman of the Year Lauren Frye.

“It will be interesting, because everybody’s lost somebody (key),” Poyer said, noting the Zias’ biggest loss was libero Hayley Crouch. “I think everybody will be tough again. We’ll have to play hard.”

Poyer said with Frye returning, and a bunch of new blood, Poyer feels confident the Zias can be competitive in the conference.

“We’ve got some kids who are young, but they can play,” Poyer said. “They just need the reps.”

Frye felt the key to make 2014 another step forward was to approach the season fresh, but remember the ways a play here or a play there could have made last season better and replicate them in this season’s similar situations.

So far, Frye said, things are looking up.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson ENMU coach Sia Poyer hits a ball to freshman Andrea Aguilar of Clovis.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson
ENMU coach Sia Poyer hits a ball to freshman Andrea Aguilar of Clovis.

“The first preseason practice,” Frye said, “compared to the first practice last year, we’re much more aggressive.”

Provided the new players catch on as quickly as Poyer hopes, he team will be a lot deeper than in his first season.

“Our MVP was our trainer,” Poyer joked. “We were always one injury away from things getting ugly.”

The Zias open the season on Sept. 5 at the Lady Buff Classic, though they do not play tournament host and LSC rival West Texas A&M. But the Zias won’t have to wait long to get into LSC action, as they open conference play Sept. 12 at Texas A&M-Kingsville and visit Canyon again Sept. 16 to face the Lady Buffs.

The quick jump into conference play means the Zias can’t waste time and they can’t have lulls if they want to prove they belong.

“We have to stay focused, be accountable to each other,” Day said. “We have to make sure we’re on the same page in everything we do.”