Los Alamos’ Nadia Gallegos and Espanola’s Kiana Duran battle at the net while their teammates intently look on in the Hilltoppers’ 3-0 victory over Espanola Oct. 8 at Espanola. Los Alamos evened its record at 7-7 with the victory and is 2-0in District 2-4A. Photo by George Morse/ladailypost.com
All eyes are on the ball as it floats in the air among five Los Alamos players. Photo by George Morse/ladailypost.com
By GEORGE MORSE
Sports And Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
The Los Alamos High School volleyball team evened its overall record at 7-7 and picked up its second win in District 2-4A competition with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-19 victory Tuesday over Espanola Valley High School at Espanola.
Senior Natalie Gallegos led the Lady Hilltoppers with 16 kills.
“She’s a stud,” Los Alamos Coach Joe Palmer said. “We have her hitting from all over the court.”
Gallegos is an asset even when she is not putting down kills from the front row. She led the Hilltoppers with 22 digs.
“Teams keep wanting to serve her,” Coach Palmer said. “I’m happy with that.”
In the first set, Los Alamos was apparently leading 18-12 after a service ace by Michaela Gonzales. Officials stopped play and began what would turn out to be a 30-minute conference. The issue was Los Alamos (Gonzales) serving out of rotation. As the delay dragged on, players, fans and everyone else in the gym grew restless.
Fans from both teams had cheering matches. Los Alamos players, Espanola players and Espanola cheerleaders danced to the music of “Footloose” as everyone wondered what was taking so long.
When a decision was finally reached, the two points that Gonzales had served were taken away from Los Alamos. Espanola was awarded a point for Los Alamos serving out-of-rotation. That made the adjusted score 16-13 in favor of Los Alamos.
Espanola won the next point, but a service error by the Sundevils and an ace by Gonzales that counted made the score 18-14 in the Hilltoppers’ favor.
Espanola battled back to within two points of the Hilltoppers 19-17, but the Hilltopperswere able to put together a three-point run. Throughout the match, Los Alamos was able to make those short but significant service runs that kept the Sundevils coming back from behind.
“I’m proud of them,” Coach Palmer said. “I had challenged them to make some service runs. We had a number of three-point runs.”
A service error by Espanola gave Los Alamos a 24-19 lead and set point. Gallegos slammed down the decisive kill to give the Hilltoppers a 25-19 victory.
In the second set, Espanola took a 7-5 lead after a kill and an ace by Dulce Maldonado. Behind a strong service run by Eden Schmierer, Los Alamos strung together seven unanswered points to take a 12-7 lead.
The Hilltoppers surged ahead 21-13 behing the hitting of Gallegos. Espanola made a late run with libero Miranda Salazar serving to make the score 23-20, but another untimely service error gave the Hilltoppers set point. It was a kill by Ariel Edkin that gave Los Alamos a 25-20 victory.
“Ariel is beginning to hit out of the middle,” Coach Palmer said. “She’s getting good points.”
In the third set, the teams battled back-and-forth and the score was tied 13-13 before Los Alamos put together one of those short but important runs to take a 17-13 lead. The Sundevils fought back to within a point 19-18, but another one of those runs gave Los Alamos a 24-18 lead. Espanola fought off oneset and match point. Another untimely service error by the Sundevils gave Los Alamos a 25-19 win and a 3-0 victory in the match.
Los Alamos had 10 service aces including three each by Gonzales and Edkin. The Hilltoppers had 13 blocks with Gallegos and Elise Olivas each getting six blocks. Olivas had 28 assists.
“We still haven’t played our best match,” Coach Palmer said.
Los Alamos played a tough pre-district schedule and was just 5-7 overall before beginning district play. Coach Palmer believes his team is well-prepared for district competition.
“Our pre-district sets us up well for the district,” he said. “We had the third-toughest schedule in the state.”
Los Alamos hosts Taos Thursday in its next District 2-4a match in Los Alamos.
Eden Schmierer makes a pass in Los Alamos’ 25-19 win in thethird set oftheir match against Espanola Valley Oct. 8 in Espanola. Photo by George Morse/ladailypost.com