Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

College volleyball: Zias beat ACU

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University took a big step Thursday toward winning the Lone Star Conference South Division volleyball championship after an 0-2 start.

Coming up big on the big points, ENMU edged South-leading Abilene Christian 30-28, 25-30, 32-30, 30-28 Thursday night before an announced crowd of 1,147 at Greyhound Arena.

The Zias (19-6, 4-2 South) have four matches left in division play — including key tests against Angelo State on Saturday and West Texas A&M on Tuesday — but now have the head-to-head games tiebreaker (5-4) on the Wildcats (20-7, 5-1). ACU won the first meeting at Abilene in five games.

“I was happy with our effort tonight; it was a big win for us,” ENMU coach Mike Maguire said. “We answered a lot of their runs. There were times when it looked like they might run away, but we hung in there.”

Junior middle blocker Lindsey Schiely converted 16 kills and senior outside hitter Anna Bellum added 14, including match point on a ball which was tipped around the net several times before she put it away. Senior Jessica Weeks had a match-high 18 digs, while Grace George collected seven blocks and Emilie Rodman had six.

“It was a great (match),” Schiely said. “We pulled together, and I was impressed with every aspect of our game tonight.

“Our defense was all over the court. It seemed like everywhere the ball was, there was Jessica Weeks.”

The Zias got off to fast starts in Games 1 and 3 before weathering ACU comebacks. They trailed 28-26 before scoring the final four points of the first game — two on kills by Kelley McGinty, and the last one on a double-block by Bellum and Grace George against ACU standout Michelle Bernhardt.

Then, after Bernhardt kills twice gave the Wildcats one-point leads late in the third game, the Zias rallied for the final two points on a double-block credited to Olivia Boan and Schiely and a service ace by Schiely.

Bernhardt, one of the LSC’s top players, converted 22 kills for the Wildcats.

Schiely said she was relieved the Zias didn’t have to go to a fifth game.

“We wanted to finish it in four,” she said. “The last time, we fell apart in the fifth game against them.”

ACU coach Brek Horn credited the enthusiastic crowd with influencing the outcome.

“it’s always nice to be at home,” she said. “When it came down to crunch times, they were more confident than we were.

“I thought they (Zias) passed the ball well tonight. They had better ball control than we did.”