Kingsville beats Zias in five again

ENMU junior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki (left) collected 19 kills and 24 digs on Thursday night, but the Zias dropped a five-game Lone Star Conference South match to Texas A&M-Kingsville at Greyhound Arena. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — For the moment, at least, Texas A&M-Kingsville seems to have Eastern New Mexico University’s number in volleyball.

After years of being dominated by the Zias, the Javelinas pulled off their fourth five-game win over ENMU over the last two seasons Thursday night, scoring the final seven points to pull out a 30-28, 16-30, 23-30, 30-19, 16-14 Lone Star Conference South Division victory at Greyhound Arena.

Prior to last season, the Zias had a 12-match winning streak against the Javs dating to a 3-1 loss at Kingsville in November 1998.

Adina Gray and Chelsea Zunker each collected 12 kills while libero Tara Greer had 36 digs for the Javelinas (7-18, 3-5 South), who looked dead in the water when ENMU (6-22, 1-6) dominated the second and third games.

Kingsville never trailed in Game 4, but fell behind 2-1 early in the fifth game and was seemingly out of it when the Zias got to match point at 14-9 on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Vanessa Wilcox kill. The Javs stayed alive with a kill from freshman outside hitter Adina Gray to begin their final run, which included four kills, a double-block and junior Leslie Petros’ two aces.

Petros’ second ace put Kingsville in front, and senior Kara Maughan’s tip-kill provided match point.

“I’m just proud of our kids for finding a way to come back in Game 4 and Game 5,” Kingsville coach Jane Kieschnick said. “We came up with some big plays at key times.

“An ugly win is always much better than a pretty loss.”

For ENMU, junior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki compiled 19 kills and 24 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Vanessa Wilcox added 16 and 20, respectively.

ENMU coach Mike Maguire, who officially announced earlier Thursday that he will step down after 20 seasons when the current campaign ends, acknowledged that both players had good outings.

“They could’ve had great nights, but we couldn’t get them the ball where they needed it,” Maguire said.

The Zias looked about as good as they have all season in rolling through the second and third games, but Maguire noted that it’s been an up-and-down season.

“We’re just not mentally tough,” he said. “Flashes (of strong play) won’t get it done in this conference. I’m looking for consistent effort.”