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David Minton

Volleyball: Pioneers cruise past Zias

Profile image for By Randy Cummings / For the Denton Record-Chronicle
By Randy Cummings / For the Denton Record-Chronicle

Home was indeed sweet for TWU on Friday night as the Pioneers overpowered Eastern New Mexico in an efficient three-set sweep that kept them unbeaten in Lone Star Conference play.

“It was an awesome game,” middle blocker Marcela Alves said of the 25-11, 25-9, 25-8 thumping the Pioneers (10-2, 4-0 LSC) gave the visiting Zias.

With workmanlike precision, the aggressive Pioneers — who had played their previous seven matches on the road and had not donned their white home uniforms since Sept. 1 — overwhelmed the Zias (4-6, 0-2).

TWU set new season marks for lowest points allowed in both the second and final sets, and the blowout was the Pioneers’ eighth sweep of the season.

“The girls were excited,” TWU head coach Shelly Barberee said. “We had a good time tonight. Everyone that was capable of playing for us played, and it showed our depth. The girls played well and continued to play like we’re capable of playing for the whole game.”

The Pioneers jumped out to commanding leads in all three sets, posting a 10-4 advantage in the first set, jumping in front by a 10-2 count in the second and using a 5-0 scoring run early in the third to stake a 12-1 lead.

Never letting up, the Pioneers needed just 65 minutes to claim the victory. TWU’s aggressive play at the net was reflected in a 45-19 advantage in kills.

When the Pioneers weren’t putting the ball away up front, their servers were giving the Zias fits. Led by Kayla Rivero’s career-high six aces, the Pioneers set a season high with 13 serves that ENMU failed to return.

Barberee was able to utilize all 12 players who suited up, but it was the Pioneers’ three cornerstones on the front line — senior Viktorija Jablonska and juniors Chloe’ Tate and Alves — who led the way.

Jablonska led with 14 kills while Alves posted a .778 hitting percentage with seven kills in nine attempts. Tate finished with nine kills in 16 tries.

Sophomore libero Morgan Wilson sparked TWU’s defense with a game-high 20 digs, and Rivero came up with four service aces in the third set.

The weekend grows a little tougher today when the Pioneers host West Texas A&M at 2 p.m. at Kitty Magee Arena. The No. 6 Lady Buffs improved to 11-1 overall and 2-0 the LSC after sweeping Texas A&M-Commerce on Friday.