Zias in position to clinch postseason berth


PORTALES — The Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team begins a regular-season-ending, three-match homestand with a key 7 p.m. Lone Star Conference South Division clash on Friday against Angelo State at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (13-14, 5-3 South) can clinch an LSC tournament berth by beating the Rambelles (10-18, 3-3), who earlier this season ended West Texas A&M’s 77-match winning streak against league competition.
ASU has a relatively young but dangerous team led by outside hitters Nicole Stoffel and Amber Smith and setter Amber Nelson. Rambelles coach Kathleen Brasfield has compiled a record of 621-349-2 in 25 years at the school.
“Angelo State is extremely well-coached; Kathleen Brasfield is one of the top volleyball coaches in Division II,” ENMU coach Mike Maguire said. “We’re not taking them lightly, and I think they (Rambelles) know it’s in the balance.”
With a win, the Zias would ensure themselves no worse than a tie for third with Angelo, and thus would clinch the division’s final spot in the tournament by virtue of a head-to-head sweep.
On Saturday, ENMU wraps up its division slate in a 2 p.m. tilt against Abilene Christian (22-8, 5-1). The Wildcats will be coming off a Friday night showdown for the South lead at WT (24-6, 7-1), which is trying to lock up its seventh consecutive division crown.
“Abilene kind of wiped the floor with us the first time,” Maguire said of a three-game Wildcats rout. “We’re just hoping that, in the confines of our gym, we can play a little better.”
ACU’s key players include outside hitters Haylee Hartline and Michelle Bernhardt and middle blocker Amanda Slate.
Tuesday night, the Zias end their regular season by hosting Wayland Baptist in a 7 p.m. start.