LA sweeps, moves closer to 2-4A win

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It was somewhat fitting that, a week before Halloween, the Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team eradicated some Demons, albeit doing so the hard way.
Los Alamos looked creaky, particularly in the early part of Wednesday’s match, but pulled things together to take a commanding lead in the third set.
Outside hitters Erin Kirk and Brianna Montaño combined for seven spike kills in the final set as the Hilltoppers earned a 25-23, 27-25, 25-17 win over Santa Fe’s Demons at Griffith Gymnasium.
Wednesday’s win gives Los Alamos a chance to clinch the District 2-4A championship Saturday. Los Alamos travels to play Española Valley, the only team with a shot at snapping the Hilltoppers’ streak of four consecutive regular season district titles.
The win also avenged a loss in the teams’ first district meeting Oct. 6 in Santa Fe, where the Demons grabbed a 3-1 victory and put Los Alamos in a bind early in the 2-4A race.
“We got rattled,” Hilltopper defensive specialist Allyssa Tedder said of the Oct. 6 match. “We kind of weren’t playing as a team. In this one we played better, we were sharing better and we had a lot more fun.”
It wasn’t the start Wednesday the Hilltoppers (11-6 overall, 5-1 in 2-4A) were hoping for, particularly with the Demons needing a victory after their loss Oct. 17 to Capital, a team they were expected to beat.
Los Alamos committed 9 unforced errors in the opening set, misfiring on seven service attempts.
Fortunately, Santa Fe (8-10, 3-3) returned the favor, committing 9 unforced errors of its own.
Hilltopper head coach Garry Maskaly said his team was fortunate to escape the first set with a win.
“If we’re missing one serve a game or one serve a match, we’ll do well, but if we miss seven serves, we’re going to struggle,” Maskaly said.
Los Alamos has spent many hours in practice on shoring up its service game and while Maskaly said missing serves comes with the territory of aggressiveness, the team must get more consistent by the time the playoffs roll around — the state tournament starts Nov. 15 and the Hilltoppers will clinch a spot with a regular season 2-4A title.
Once again, the Hilltopper offense was paced by Erin Kirk, who put down 11 spike kills in the three sets. Claire Stewart finished with 10 spike kills and Sam Fenner had five spike kills and five block kills.
“We were really motivated to do well,” Stewart said afterward. “This was better than the last time we played them. We were going in, trying to play with a lot of confidence. We kept pumped up.”
Wednesday was also ‘Dig Pink’ night at Griffith Gym. Money was raised to help the fight against breast cancer.