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Midwestern topples Zias in four

Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank Zias coach Mike Maguire talks to junior defensive specialist Vanessa Espinoza before the start of Thursday's second game against Midwestern State at Greyhound Arena. Before the match, Maguire was given a plaque for his 400th career win at the school by ENMU athletic director Jeff Geiser.

PORTALES — The Eastern New Mexico University Zias honored coach Mike Maguire for his 400th win at the school in a pregame ceremony Thursday night. They were unable to sustain the momentum during their Lone Star Conference match with Midwestern State.

ENMU dominated the second game, but saw little else go right in a 25-13, 14-25, 25-16, 25-20 loss to the Mustangs at Greyhound Arena.

Maguire, who received a plaque before Thursday’s match after reaching the milestone Saturday with a win over Oklahoma Panhandle State in a weekend tournament at Odessa, Texas, was disappointed with his team’s showing.

“As a coach you would think coming off a big (win) and the team playing really well, they would be excited about it,” said Maguire, who coached the Zias from 1987-2006 before returning to the sideline this season. “That excitement level, for some reason, wasn’t there. It’s a part of coaching you have to figure out.”

Karolina Damjanovic had 14 kills while Hillary White contributed eight kills and 12 digs for the Mustangs (10-7, 4-1 LSC).

The Zias got 12 kills from junior middle blocker Kristen Beck, while sophomore outside hitter Amber Durand had eight kills and a team-high 23 digs. Senior setter Veronica Valdez-Kent chipped in 14 digs and 33 assists.

“I really try to give my team an open net so they are not hitting into sweep blockers,” Valdez-Kent said. “It can be high sometimes, but they really help me since I’m a (relatively) new player to setting this year.”

Valdez-Kent said errors are hurting the Zias, and they aren’t playing with enough energy.

“Veronica is doing a good job for us as a setter because we had a good setter who left and she had to fill in,” Maguire said. “She has been doing a good job and she has been getting better at it. I have complete confidence in her.”

After dropping the first set, the Zias took control in the second with a 10-1 run for a 12-4 lead and were never threatened. Midwestern State opened an 8-3 lead in the third set and never trailed, and stayed in control in the fourth to wrap up the win.

The Zias host Cameron at 7 p.m. Saturday in another LSC match at Greyhound Arena.

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