Zia’s drop two games in Texas tournament

ODESSA, Texas — The Eastern New Mexico University volleyball team dropped its first two matches in a weekend tournament hosted by Texas-Permian Basin, losing to Fort Hays State 25-18, 27-29, 25-21, 25-19 and to the host Lady Falcons 21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18.

ENMU (7-9) had defeated both teams earlier in the season. The Zias take on Oklahoma Panhandle State, another early-season victim, to close out play in the event at 5 p.m. (MDT) today.

Fort Hays State (5-10) lead all the way in the first set before the Zias evened the match, nailing it down on back-to-back kills by junior middle blocker Jessica King to break a 27-27 tie.

Neither team led by more than three points in the third game until Fort Hays put together a 5-0 run featuring an ace from Kirsten Chamberlin and one kill each from three players.

The Lady Tigers erased a 12-9 deficit in the fourth game, going on an 8-1 run highlighted by back-to-back kills from Makayla McPhail.

McPhail finished with a match-high 20 kills for FHSU, while the Zias got 12 kills from sophomore outside hitter Amber Durand and 41 assists from senior setter Veronica Valdez-Kent.

Junior middle blocker Kristen Beck had 13 kills and King added 12 against Permian Basin, while sophomore libero Dallas Russell had 22 digs and Valdez-Kent compiled 45 assists.

The Zias won a seesaw first game, then lost two tight sets before the Lady Falcons (7-10) pulled away in the fourth to clinch the victory.