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Zias look to make progress

Sports writer

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PORTALES — The Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team made strides last year.

Despite a last-place prediction in the Lone Star Conference this season, the Zias are confident things will go much better.

“Our goals are the same — not just make it to the conference tournament, but to win it,” second-year coach Sia Poyer said.

ENMU (8-20, 4-12 last season) did make strides, ending long losing streaks to conference rivals Tarleton State and Midwestern State. The Zias return a number of key players, although they’ll have to replace a good one in second-team All-LSC libero Haley Couch.

“Losing Haley Couch is huge, but (sophomore) Lindsey Bost (of Rio Rancho) was our defensive specialist from last year,” Poyer said.

ENMU opens its season with two matches today and two on Saturday in West Texas A&M’s Lady Buff Classic at Canyon.

Sophomore outside hitters Lauren Frye of Amissville, Va., the LSC freshman of the year, and Courtney Lawson of Rio Rancho, an honorable mention selection, also return while senior Lindsey Barron gives the Zias depth at the position after redshirting last season.

“Last year, our firepower was pretty much Lauren and Courtney,” said Poyer, a longtime assistant under former ENMU coach Mike Maguire. “This year, I think we’ll have more options.”

Other top returnees include senior setters Kennedi Catano of Amarillo and Karra Day Escondido, Calif., and senior middle blockers Agatha Gibbons of Suva, Fiji, and Bree Lucero of Fort Sumner.

“We have a big senior class, which you would think would make things a little easier,” Poyer said. “We’re better than last year. We should do better, but we don’t have someone to carry us. We need all six players (on the court) to play well.”

Catano, a fourth-year starter, said with most of the team’s top players back, the outlook is good.

“We have a really strong core to our team,” she said. “There’s a feeling I’ve had this year — it seems all the girls are on the same page. This year, I’m hoping to be the best that I can be. and the best I can be for the team.”

ZIAS SCHEDULE

September

5-6 — Lady Buff Classic at Canyon, Texas (5 vs. Colo.-Colorado Springs, 8:30 a.m., and vs. Colorado Mesa, 1:30 p.m.; 6 vs. Adams State, 1:30 p.m., and vs. New Mexico Highlands, 6:30 p.m.); 12-13 — at Texas A&M-Kingsville tournament (12 vs. Texas A&M International, 7 a.m., and vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville, 5 p.m.-x; 13 vs. Fort Lewis, noon, and vs. Adelphi, 7:30 p.m.); 16 — at West Texas A&M, 6 p.m.-x; 23 — Midwestern State, 7 p.m.-x; 26 — Angelo State, 7 p.m.-x; 27 — Tarleton State, 7 p.m.-x; 30 — University of the Southwest, 7 p.m.

October

3 — at Texas Woman’s, 6 p.m.-x; 4 — at Texas A&M-Commerce, 1 p.m.-x; 7 — New Mexico Highlands, 6 p.m.; 10 — at Midwestern State, 6 p.m.-x; 11 — at Cameron, 1 p.m.-x; 14 — West Texas A&M, 7 p.m.; 15 — Texas-Permian Basin, 7 p.m.; 17 — Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m.-x; 21 — Cameron, 7 p.m.-x; 25 — vs. Dallas Baptist, 1 p.m., and vs. Texas-Permian Basin, 3 p.m., at Odessa, Texas; 27 — at University of the Southwest, 7 p.m.; 31 — at Tarleton State, 5 p.m.-x.

November

1 — at Angelo State, 6 p.m.-x; 4 — at New Mexico Highlands, 6 p.m.; 7 — Texas A&M-Commerce, 7 p.m.-x; 8 — Texas Woman’s, 1 p.m.-x; 13-15 — LSC tournament, TBA.

All times Mountain. x-Denotes Lone Star Conference matches.

 
 
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