By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — Zias volleyball coach Mike Maguire remained in his seat, staring at the court, nearly 10 minutes after his Eastern New Mexico University squad’s Lone Star Conference South Division match against Tarleton State on Saturday afternoon at Greyhound Arena.
Maguire seemed to be lost in his thoughts, and at the same time, soaking up the moment, just after his second-to-last home match after leading the Zias’ program for 20 seasons.
Tarleton State handed the Zias a 30-27, 30-24, 31-29 setback.
“I don’t believe we competed at all,” Maguire said. “I don’t know what it is, but we didn’t put out much of an effort, that was a big factor in Tarleton’s win. They’ve got a good team, but if we don’t go out there and put out the effort, this is the way it’s going to be.”
The Zias (6-23, 1-7 South) began the first game strong with a 4-0 lead capped by a service ace by junior outside hitter Jessie Macknicki.
ENMU expanded the margin to 10-3 before the TexAnns (12-13, 4-3) took 13 of the next 17 points to take their first lead of the match. They never lost that lead, winning the first game 30-27.
The second game was tightly contested until the TexAnns pulled away late. ENMU then erased a 20-12 deficit in Game 3 to pull even 27-27, but the Zias could never take the lead.
Saturday’s loss was the Zias 10th in a row.
“I would say that 90 percent of the losses this year were from unforced errors and a lack of focus, and it’s continued,” Maguire said. “And now with a lack of effort that just lumps it on there, and it makes it really, really tough to do anything positive.”
Despite the Zias late season skid, and his impending resignation, Maguire would not say his players have given up.
“I’ll leave that to the fans to decide what they see out there on the court,” he said. “They’re pretty knowledgeable volleyball fans that have followed this program for a long time, and I’m not going to make that statement.”
Macknicki led the Zias with 15 kills, while sophomore setter Kara Killian collected 27 assists. Killian also led the Zias’ defensive effort with 16 digs.
TexAnns coach Mary Domine described the match as a must-win for her squad, which is hoping to earn one of three South berths in the upcoming LSC tournament.
“This is one we really needed to win to cement our way into the conference tournament,” Domine said. “We knew coming in here that this gym is tough to play in.”
The Zias close out their home schedule with a 7 p.m. non-league clash on Tuesday against Lubbock Christian. They finish the season next weekend with South road matches against Abilene Christian and Angelo State.