Zias beat Pueblo, lose to Fort Hays

CNJ staff

Megan Kabrick played basketball her first two years at Eastern New Mexico University, then sat out her junior season.

A bit restless, she tried out for the Zias’ volleyball team in the spring. It was a sport she hadn’t played since 2005, her senior year at Portales High.

Kabrick put together perhaps her best match of the season Saturday, collecting a team-high 13 kills as the Zias used a late 9-1 run to pull out a 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-13 win over Colorado State-Pueblo in the ENMU Invitational at Greyhound Arena.

The Zias couldn’t sustain it Saturday night, losing in three sets to Fort Hays State 25-15, 25-20, 25-23.

“(Assistant trainer) Jeremy Glaser told me about tryouts (in the spring),” Kabrick said. “I worked out all spring with the team, and the girls were so helpful to me.”

Kabrick didn’t play at all in a win over New Mexico Highlands on Thursday, then saw limited floor time Friday as the Zias (2-6) lost in four games to Missouri Western.

“I needed to prove myself,” she said. “Coach (Kim Falkenhagen) said she needed her hitters to go out there and be aggressive.”

The Zias led most of the first game, then took control in the third with a 7-1 run after three consecutive blocks staked Pueblo (2-5) to a 4-1 lead. Setter Veronica Valdez-Kent converted a tip for a kill on game point.

The Thunderwolves then used a 13-4 run, building a six-point lead late on a service ace by freshman outside hitter Janae Heiser to square the match.

Pueblo opened a 10-5 lead in the fifth set before the Zias mounted their comeback, getting two kills from Madison Rhodes and two more from sophomore middle blocker Jessica King, who converted consecutive overpasses to put the Zias up for good 13-11.

“We’ve been trying to work on getting more mentally tough,” Falkenhagen said. “We just got mentally aggressive (at the end) and fought for it.

“It’s anybody’s game (in the fifth set) because it’s shorter and more intense. It’s important to be aggressive.”

Valdez-Kent contributed nine kills, 37 assists, 10 digs and eight blocks (one solo). Rhodes had 10 kills and 10 digs, while King had seven kills and seven blocks (four solos).

The Thunderwolves got 15 kills and 12 digs from Heiser, but they were hurt by 14 service errors compared to only six for ENMU.