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Nm CY Los Alamos Outlasts Pojoaque Valley, Grabs First Place In District Volleyball Race

Los Alamos Outlasts Pojoaque Valley, Grabs First Place In District Volleyball Race

Ashley Hammond delivers one of her 10 spike kills for the night in the 1st set. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

By MIKE COTE
Los Alamos Daily Post

Like most matches between the two teams, the volleyball showdown between the Los Alamos Hilltoppers and the Pojoaque Valley Elkettes Tuesday night went down to the wire.

And, much like most of the recent contests between the two teams, the Hilltoppers prevailed.

Los Alamos bounced back from a very slow start Tuesday to win sets two and three, then outlasted Pojoaque Valley in a contentious fifth set to win 22-25, 29-27, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12.

That match was broadcast live on the Los Alamos Daily Post’s YouTube channel.

With its win at Ben Lujan Gymnasium in Jacona, Los Alamos (13-6 overall, 4-0 in district) holds the top spot in the district race at the halfway point of the season. The two teams will meet again in the season finale Nov. 4 at Griffith Gymnasium.

Pojoaque Valley (12-7, 3-1) has been a consistent top-five teams for years, but in recent seasons, Los Alamos has been able to knock the Elkettes off their perch in the district race.

The Elkettes went into Tuesday’s game ranked No. 4 in Class 4A, while the Hilltoppers were only two slots behind, having won three of their last four contests.

It was a struggle at the beginning of the match, though, as Los Alamos had numerous unforced errors, including four early net serves, as Pojoaque Valley went up big early and led by as much as 19-9.

Los Alamos mounted a comeback late in the first set, but couldn’t come back all the way in that set. Nevertheless, Los Alamos was able to grab some momentum that would come in useful in set two.

The Hilltoppers would actually move out to a solid lead in the second set, but it would be the Elkettes who came back late, tying the score at 25 and forcing extra points before the Hilltoppers pulled the set out.

Traditionally, Pojoaque Valley has been extremely tough on defense – Tuesday was no exception – but Los Alamos’ potent offense was eventually able to break through to earn the win.

Nadia Gallegos, the Hilltoppers’ middle hitter, led everyone with 16 spike kills and 6 block kills. She had two big spike kills in the fifth set to help put the match away.

Gallegos got plenty of help from Michella Macias, who has turned in some big performances recently, had 13 spike kills, and Ashley Hammond got on track late in the contest, earning 10 spike kills, four of those coming in the decisive fifth set.

Pojoaque Valley made some key plays in the fourth set. Shontelle Molina, the Elkettes’ libero, had a huge showing both on defense and at the service line, excelling in both in the fourth set, while Adrianna Rodriguez produced some timely, well-placed hits, including a back-row kill to help close the set out and force the fifth set.

Abi Lechel had a solid overall performance Tuesday, despite being hampered by a sore left wrist, and libero Bri Nieto had numerous big digs throughout. 

Los Alamos starts the second half of district play Thursday when it goes on the road to face Española Valley.

Nadia Gallegos had a big night with 16 spike kills and 6 block kills. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Bri Nieto made numerous dig saves to help keep the Toppers in the game. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Michelle Macias bumps the ball into play in the 2nd set, she had 13 spike kills. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

The Toppers celebrate winning a big point in the 2nd set. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Nadia Gallegos and Ashley Hammond block a spike attempt by Aspen Garcia in the 3rd set. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Angelina Passalacqua sets the ball for Solenne Thelliez in the 2nd set. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

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