Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson/Sophomore Adrienne Sena returns a serve during Wednesday’s Zia volleyball practice at Greyhound Arena.
By Dave Wagner
PORTALES — A young Eastern New Mexico University’s volleyball squad got even younger with injuries to their only two returning starters.
Senior outside hitters Margie Goble, who spent her first three seasons as ENMU’s setter, and Anya Mack will not play in this weekend’s season-opening Lady Buff Classic, hosted by rival West Texas A&M. Goble (knee) and Mack (hip) are awaiting the results of MRIs this week, and veteran ENMU coach Mike Maguire said either or both could be looking at season-ending surgery.
Still, Maguire expects to have a solid all-around squad as the Zias try to chase down perennial power WT in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
“It’d be nice if we didn’t have those two players injured,” Maguire said. “But I think others are coming along good. They’re solid and have great attitudes, and they bring it to practice every day.
“We’ve got two strong outside hitters (Anna Bellum and Kelley McGinty) and a good setter (Jennifer Bullock),” Maguire said. “I think we’ve got some good young talent.”
The Zias face Adams State (Colo.) and Division III Texas Lutheran today at WT. ENMU will see a couple of highly-regarded Division II foes in Grand Valley State (Mich.) and Regis (Colo.) on Saturday.
Despite the injuries to Goble and Mack, this year’s team isn’t without college-experienced players. As usual, Maguire and assistant coach Sia Poyer hit the junior college ranks hard.
Several transfers are ticketed for starting positions this weekend, including Bellum, McGinty, Bullock and 6-foot middle blocker Emilie Rodman, all juniors. Two freshmen, Grace George and Jennifer Luttrell, are expected to start at the middle blocker positions, Maguire said.
Maguire said two Portales products, sophomore defensive specialist Olivia Boan and freshman outside hitter Kristin Van Wettering, have shown well in preseason.
“It’s definitely a new team,” said junior defensive specialist Jessica Weeks, who like Bellum came to ENMU from Garden City (Kan.) Community College. “I think if both Margie and Anya are out for the season, it’s definitely a loss for the team.
“I don’t think we’ve come together yet as a team, but I think this weekend will be a really good test just to see how we pull together.”
Maguire said WT, which has won six consecutive South Division titles, looks formidable again despite the loss to graduation of several top players.
“West Texas looks like they’ve reloaded,” he said. “They have a bunch of new faces, but they’ve got a lot of quality freshmen in. They’re the ones we have to chase down.”