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LA swept at home Saturday by Española Valley in 2-4A

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By Mike Cote

The Española Valley Sundevils wrapped up the District 2-4A regular season volleyball championship Saturday night and they did so at the expense of the Los Alamos Hilltoppers.
Los Alamos took on its toughest rival Saturday night in Griffith Gymnasium with high hopes coming off a 3-2 loss in the valley earlier this month, a match the Hilltoppers trailed 2-0 in after two sets but came roaring back to nearly steal it from the Sundevils.
However, as Hilltopper head coach Robin Reynolds noted prior to Saturday’s match, his team had to cut down on the big number of unforced errors it committed at Española Valley.
But the Hilltoppers couldn’t shake that bug.
Los Alamos, which never got its offense on track and had a spotty performance from the service line, another one of its important weapons, fell in straight sets to the Sundevils, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22.
“We gave them 10 points in each set,” Reynolds said afterward. “When you give them that many, they can take advantage.”
Española Valley, meanwhile, earned the regular season district title, the accompanying automatic bid into the state Class 4A tournament, scheduled for next month, and the No. 1 overall seed in next week’s district tournament with the victory.
Española Valley’s district win snapped an impressive four-year string of district titles by the Hilltoppers, who still need to top Capital Wednesday night to assure themselves of the district’s No. 2 seed. Española Valley can make a clean sweep of 2-4A this season with a win over Bernalillo Wednesday, which the Sundevils had no trouble with in their first meeting.
The Sundevils are led by outside hitter Elana Salazar, who posted another big game against the Hilltoppers.
Salazar, a shoo-in for the district’s Most Valuable Player honor this season, had 15 spike kills in the three sets, five coming in the first set in which the Sundevils never trailed and 7 in the second set as the Sundevils moved out to a late 7-point lead before the Hilltoppers attempted to rally.
Los Alamos’ best set was the third, in which Sierra Foley had three spike kills to help give the Hilltoppers an 18-15 lead at one point, but that disappeared with Salazar at the service line. Salazar reeled off five straight points, including an ace, to give the Sundevils a 21-18 lead they would never relinquish.
For Los Alamos (11-7 overall, 4-3 in 2-4A), Brianna Montaño finished with 8 spike kills to lead the team. Foley had 7 spike kills and Claire Stewart finished with 3 block kills in the middle.
Along with Wednesday’s contest at Capital, the Hilltoppers have a postseason tune-up match Saturday at Farmington.
Although it won’t receive the district’s automatic tournament bid, Los Alamos should have no problem earning an at-large slot into the 2013 playoffs.