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Zias making strides

Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank ENMU senior setter Veronica Valdez-Kent, right, tries to tip the ball back over the net after blocking Texas A&M-Kingsville sophomore outside hitter Cady Mercer during a match Thursday at Greyhound Arena. The Zias beat the Javelinas in four games.

Zias junior middle blocker Kristen Beck posted a match-high 14 kills as Eastern New Mexico University beat Texas A&M-Kingsville 27-25, 25-17, 19-25, 25-23 on Thursday at Greyhound Arena.

ENMU, trying to end a run of five consecutive losing seasons, improved to 12-11 (4-5 Lone Star Conference) with the win over the Javelinas (9-11, 4-5).

“I think we have players who are committed to being here and put forth the effort to turn the program around,” said Maguire, who had a 16-year run of winning records during his first stint as Zias coach (1987-2006) before taking over again this year. “It’s a good group and they are very smart students.”

Last season the Zias went 6-22 overall and 0-12 in the conference. Maguire, who had been ENMU’s athletic director for eight years, returned to the bench to replace Kim Falkenhagen after the university did not renew her contract.

Sophomore outside hitter Amber Durand had 12 kills and 21 digs for the Zias. Junior middle blocker Jessica King, who finished with 12 kills, one block solo and three block assists, said she attributes the team’s success to the players being able to work well together.

“We’re playing better,” said King, who is from Las Cruces. “We’re playing smarter, and (Maguire’s) coaching style is a lot different. It’s finally coming together after three years.”

ENMU continues LSC play on Saturday with a 7 p.m. match against Incarnate Word at Greyhound Arena.

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