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Espinoza named new volleyball coach

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By Mike Cote

It’s been a busy week for coaching hires at Los Alamos High School.
Just two days after the announcement of the hiring of the boys basketball coach, LAHS announced it had filled another big job vacancy.
Sharleen Espinoza, a three-year assistant with the Hilltopper volleyball team, was named as the new head coach Friday.
Espinoza has worked under both Garry Maskaly and Robin Reynolds. When she officially takes over in the fall, she will be the Hilltoppers’ third head coach in three years.
At some point last season, Espinoza coached the C team, junior varsity and the varsity programs, sitting in the captain’s chair when he was unavailable.
Espinoza said she feels she’s very familiar with the program and the personnel and is quite prepared to take over the reins.
“I’m ready to do the things we need to do,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working with the coaches at the middle school and the high school and developing young players. I’m excited to be doing that type of work with (the program).”
In its one year under Reynolds, Los Alamos posted a record of 13-9, which included a 5-3 district record.
Los Alamos advanced to the state playoffs last season, but was dropped in the opening round by District 2-4A foe Santa Fe, which finished as last year’s district runner-up behind Española Valley.
While there is plenty of work for Espinoza to get started on — she will coordinate summer plans and work on the fall schedule with athletic director Vicki Nelms this week — one of her big challenges will be to fill in some big blanks that were left after graduating six seniors from last year’s program, most notably setter Michaela Pigue and libero Allyssa Tedder.
Espinoza, who came through the Los Alamos program herself as a setter for the Hilltoppers, graduating in 2006, said getting the passing game up to speed should be a relatively smooth process.
The Hilltoppers do have a solid nucleus returning for the fall, however. Sam Melton did see time as setter last year and the offense has talent returning in the form of Brianna Montaño and Sierra Foley, who will both be juniors.
Workouts in preparation for this fall, Espinoza said, will begin soon.
“Definitely, we need to take the off-season time to get the girls in the gym,” she said. “I’ve got our workout plans ready. We’re ready to get things moving.”
Prior to joining the Hilltopper coaching staff in 2011, Espinoza served as the team manager for the University of New Mexico volleyball program in 2006 and 2007.
Currently, she’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics at UNM.
Espinoza has also been a coach with the local club team, the Los Alamos Fusion, where she works with the 12-and-under group.
She said she owed a debt of gratitude to Reynolds for allowing her to share the load last season, including running some of the practices during the year. That responsibility helped her prepare for the promotion to the top job.
“He allowed me to take a bigger role,” she said. “I feel a lot more comfortable and confident going into this season.”