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LA earns big sweep over Santa Fe

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By Mike Cote

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Or in the case of the Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team, in straight sets.
Los Alamos dropped the Santa Fe Demons in three sets Wednesday night, picking up a big win in what appears will be a battle for second place in the upcoming District 2-4A tournament.

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After a solid win in set one, the Hilltoppers and Demons were back-and-forth in sets two and three. The Hilltoppers had to stave off a couple of Demon rallies in the second set and then come from behind late in the third set to win 25-18, 25-22, 27-25 at Griffith Gymnasium.

Los Alamos outside hitter Sierra Foley, who otherwise had a productive night Wednesday, banged a pair of serves into the net in two straight trips late in set two and early in set three. She found herself at the service line with a chance to put the match away and did so, scoring the final two points to give Los Alamos the win.

Besides that, Foley finished with a match-high nine spike kills, mostly using some holes in the middle of the floor to her advantage.

“If we tipped, it was usually open,” Foley said. “We tried to tip around the blockers and hit into the corners. It’s more difficult because (the Demons) are taller. We’re used to having shorter blockers.”

The Demons (13-5 overall, 3-3 in 2-4A) are the tallest team in the district with two players listed above 6 feet and two more that are just under 6 feet.

The Demons used that height to their advantage the first time the teams met Oct. 5, as they rolled to a 3-1 victory in Santa Fe.

But now, with Los Alamos’ straight-set victory Wednesday, the Hilltoppers (11-6 overall, 4-2 in district) will get the nod for the No. 2 seed in the upcoming district tournament by virtue of winning more sets over Santa Fe in head-to-head competition.

Both teams, going into this week, could only hope for the second seed and its accompanying automatic bid into the district semifinals, after Santa Fe fell to the Española Valley Sundevils 3-0 Saturday. With that win and a 3-0 win over Capital Wednesday, Española Valley improves to 6-0 in the district and would need just one win in either of its last two matches to clinch the district regular season title.

Los Alamos and Española Valley (12-6 overall) play Saturday night in Griffith Gym.

Against Santa Fe, Los Alamos came out with a balanced attack. Five players had at least two kills in set one as Los Alamos went up early and never relinquished the lead.

The second set didn’t start out particularly smooth for either team. Neither team was doing well against the others’ serve and passing on both sides of the net was spotty.

Michaela Pigue, who has helped anchor a Hilltopper passing squad that had little experience coming into this season, said communication broke down with her team in the second set.

“For the most part, there was confusion on whose ball was whose,” Pigue said. “But it helped when some people took control and started taking charge.”

There were seven lead changes in the second set. Los Alamos, however, would regain the lead for the last time with Sam Melton serving at 18-17.

Los Alamos won six straight points, taking advantage of four Santa Fe errors, to pull away from the Demons and hold on for the set win.