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LA shares pool with St. Pius, Kirtland Cent.

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By Mike Cote

No one said it was easy to win a state championship.Even so, the Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team has an uphill road from the get-go.Los Alamos was seeded ninth in the 12-team tournament, which gets going Wednesday morning at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center. All teams advance to Thursday’s single elimination play.“I can’t say I like my seeding, but I can’t do much about it,” Los Alamos head coach Diana Stokes said. “We beat Española (Valley) two times and we got a lower seeding. I’m not sure how that happened.”Española Valley’s Sundevils (15-5), whom Los Alamos beat 3-1 Saturday to claim the District 2AAAA title, ended up with a seventh seed for Wednesday’s pool play round. While they have a slightly better draw in Pool A than the Hilltoppers do in Pool C, they still have to contend with the 800-pound gorilla that is Moriarty in the same pool.In Pool C, Los Alamos is matched up with third-seeded Kirtland Central, fourth-seeded St. Pius X and 10th-seeded Shiprock, which made the tournament with an at-large bid coming out of District 1AAAA, which Kirtland Central won.Los Alamos (13-9) saw both St. Pius’ Sartans and Kirtland Central’s Broncos during the regular season, falling to both squads.