Wednesday evening the Hilltopper volleyball team played host to their formidable rivals, the Espanola Valley Sundevils. This match was originally scheduled to be played in Espanola but a threat of violence forced the temporary closure of Espanola high school so the match location was switched.
The Toppers and the Sundevils have been district powerhouses for years. This match had everything good about volleyball – spike kills, tip kills, dinks, digs, back sets, service aces and great teamwork. The Toppers won the first set with a deceptively easy 25-18 score. Elizabeth Anaya served for four points in this set while Sierra Foley served for 6 points.
The second set was a thriller. The Toppers led from the start up until an 18-15 score, but then the Sundevils came on strong getting a game point at 22-24. However, the Toppers dug deeply and forced a 25-25 tie and then won 27-25 on Brianna Montano’s serve.
The Toppers led for most of the very close third set finally winning 25-21. The match featured some excellent blocking of the Topper power hitters by the Sundevils. Topper co-captain and setter, Samantha Melton, had to use all of her wiles and skills to move the attack points away from the Sundevil blockers. This included a beautiful backset to middle blocker Noelle Gallegos. She also got a very strong performance from 6-foot senior, left-handed Mackenzie Alexander who had 7 kills.
Ashlynn Trujillo led the Toppers in serving points with 8; she also had numerous digs on defense because the Sundevils’ leading hitter, Kaitlynn Romero, really pounded the ball and ended with 12 kills. Brianna Montano led the Toppers with 16 kills. The Sundevils concentrated on blocking Sierra Foley, but she still ended up with 7 kills including tip kills when the blockers had no second line of defense.
It was a real team victory for the Toppers with middle blockers Noelle Gallegos and Hallie Street combining for 11 kills.
The Topper freshmen won in two sets, 25-19 and 25-14. It took the Topper JV three sets because they lost the first set 22-25. They won the second set fairly easily at 25-15 and had a close win, 15-13, in the tie-breaker third set. During the JV game an Espanola hit was ruled out of bounds, but one of the Topper girls went up to the ref and said that she had touched the ball at the net. The referee reversed the call and awarded the point to Espanola. Great sportsmanship!
The next home action for the Topper volleyball teams is Wednesday, Oct. 14, when they continue district play against Del Norte.