A&M-Commerce 3, Eastern New Mexico 1
Location: Greyhound Arena • Portales, N.M.
Records: A&M-Commerce (16-6, 7-5 LSC); Eastern New Mexico (6-15, 7-10 LSC)
Up Next: at No. 11 West Texas A&M • Saturday, Oct. 20 • 2 p.m.
PORTALES, N.M. – A&M-Commerce fell behind early on the road at Eastern New Mexico, but the Lions rallied to drop the Zias in four sets 21-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-23 at Greyhound Arena. A&M-Commerce won its fourth-straight match, improving to 16-6 on the year and 7-5 in Lone Star Conference play.
For the match, the Lions hit .228 off 57 kills, compared to a .164 clip on 47 kills for the Zias. A&M-Commerce also held advantages in assists (53 to 46) and blocks (10 to 2) with Eastern New Mexico leading in digs (76 to 74) and service aces (4 to 3).
Three Lions posted double-digit kill totals on the evening, led by 18 from Rachel Robertson, who hit .333 with five blocks and five digs. Ezon Onditi posted 13 kills for A&M-Commerce while Breanne Snyder added 11 kills with nine digs and four blocks as well. Chelsee Hudson and Kayla Bond also contributed with six kills each as the duo combined for seven blocks.
Jordan Neal finished with 50 assists to lead all players on the evening, complemented by three kills and a pair of digs. Defensively, Michaela Spicer notched another strong outing, finishing with 28 digs to lead the Lions, followed by 11 from both Morgan Moeller and Haley Richburg.
With Friday's match a key one for both teams, both A&M-Commerce and Eastern New Mexico came out eager to get off to a fast start. The teams traded points for the majority of the first set as neither was able to build a lead greater than two points, combining for 15 ties and two lead changes. With the set tied at 20-20, the Zias finally managed to gather some momentum, recording four-straight points to take the lead at 24-20 before closing out the Lions 25-21 in the opener.
The first set defeat seemed to spark A&M-Commerce as the Lions notched the first six points of set two and never looked back. Another run extended A&M-Commerce's lead to 10 at 20-10 before the Lions cruised to the 25-16 victory to knot the match at one set apiece heading into intermission.
After exchanging points early in set three, the Lions once again began to establish itself with an 11-1 run to take control at 20-13, thanks in part to a pair of aces from Snyder. Leading 24-16, A&M-Commerce withstood a late rally by Eastern New Mexico, taking the third 25-19.
As competitive as the opening set was, set four proved to be just as riveting as both the Lions and the Zias combined for 15 ties and seven lead changes. Once again, neither team was able to build more than a two-point advantage as A&M-Commerce and Eastern New Mexico found themselves tied 23-23 late in the stanza. But as they have done recently, the Lions notched the key points when it mattered most as a pair of blocks, one by Bond and Snyder and the match-clincher by Robertson and Neal, sealed the 25-23 fourth set and gave the Lions a key conference road victory.
With the victory, A&M-Commerce extended its winning streak over Eastern New Mexico to four matches, improving to 26-18 all-time against the Zias and 9-8 at Greyhound Arena. The Lions remain in sole possession of fifth-place in the Lone Star Conference standings, a match and a half back of fourth-place Texas Woman's.
A&M-Commerce faces another challenging road match Saturday afternoon, making the trip to Canyon for a showdown with 11th-ranked West Texas A&M. The Lady Buffs are coming off a 3-1 victory over the Pioneers Friday evening and currently sit in third-place in the LSC standings at 18-3 overall and 9-2 in conference play. Opening serve against the Lady Buffs is set for 2 p.m. with live video and live stats available at LionAthletics.com.