Zias push Lady Buffs in 3-0 loss

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s volleyball pushed rival West Texas A&M Tuesday night, but the Lady Buffs pulled away to a 25-19, 25-17, 25-21 Lone Star Conference victory over the Zias at Greyhound Arena.

Lauren Thedford posted 17 kills to lead WT (19-8, 11-0 LSC), which took a one-half game lead over Abilene Christian (22-3, 10-0) in the tight, three-team conference race. WT and ENMU (12-13, 4-7) both visit ACU and third-place Angelo State (13-10, 9-1) next week to wrap up regular-season play.

Thedford’s kill total was the highest against the Zias in a three-set match this season.

Junior middle blocker Jessica King had 11 kills for ENMU, marking the fourth time in five matches she has reached double figures in that department. Sophomore Dallas Russell had a match-high 22 kills for the Zias and senior setter Veronica Valdez-Kent finished with 35 assists.

The Zias jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set before the Lady Buffs rallied to take the lead for good 13-11 on consecutive kills by Ashley Davis. The Zias led 2-1 early in the second set and were tied 11-11 after a kill from sophomore Megan Carpenter before WT went ahead for good with the next three points.

In game 3, the Zias led three times by two points, the last at 9-7 on a kill by Valdez-Kent, but WT scored the next seven points highlighted by three consecutive kills from Thedford.

ENMU pulled within two points three times late, the last at 23-21 on junior middle blocker Kristen Beck’s kill. Keidra Williams earned a sideout and put the Lady Buffs at match point with a kill before Thedford’s last kill of the night finished it off.

The Zias return to action in a 1 p.m. conference match on Saturday against Tarleton State at Stephenville, Texas.