Volleyball: ´Toppers pick up pair of home sweeps

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By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team opened its 2010 home schedule with a pair of wins, including a sweep over one of Class AAAA’s most feared squads.
In consecutive nights, the Hilltoppers topped both the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals, usually a solid Class AAA program, and the Moriarty Pintos. The Hilltoppers dropped both the Cardinals and the Pintos 3-0 at Griffith Gymnasium.
The matches were the first two home appearances of the season for the Hilltoppers, who will bounce back-and-forth for most of the rest of the season.
“Basically, our weekday matches will be at home and our Saturday matches will be on the road,” Los Alamos head coach Garry Maskaly said. “It’s kind of unfortunate the way that works out.”
Los Alamos, which is among the top five Class AAAA teams in the state, according to the newly-released New Mexico High School Coaches Association poll, is among the hottest teams in the state right now. Since its victory at the Roswell Zia Classic two weeks ago, Los Alamos has not dropped even one set.
Wednesday against Moriarty, Los Alamos dominated virtually from start to finish, taking the contest 25-14, 25-17, 25-22. Only in the third set did the Pintos remain particularly competitive, that mostly coming on a late spurt toward the end with Los Alamos holding a 23-16 lead.
Other than that, the match against Moriarty, one of the most successful programs in the state in recent history, was largely one-sided.
The Hilltoppers (7-5), who have developed a very balanced offense that is effective from either side or from the middle, spread the ball around well again Wednesday, getting outside hitter Alicia Rendon plenty of chances.
Rendon took advantage in both the second and third sets, picking up seven spike kills in those two.
Middle hitter Chase Ealey was again effective, both on offense and defense, aided by Oksana Tretiak, who had a pair of block kills in the final two games.
Moriarty won back-to-back Class AAAA titles in 2007-2008, going an incredible 44-5 during those seasons, led by twin towers Brandy and Kristin Valencia.
But Moriarty (3-4) took its fourth consecutive loss Wednesday night, being unable to defend most of Los Alamos’ attacks and even struggling to set up its own offense, giving up numerous free balls.
Los Alamos has not lost a set since its second set against Tularosa, a solid small school program, at the Zia Classic Sept. 11.
In its opener Tuesday night against Robertson, Sabrina Little finished with a match-high 15 spike kills and Tretiak added 10 more to help secure the sweep.
Next up for the Hilltoppers is their District 2AAAA-opening contest against the Bernalillo Spartans. That match, another home match for Los Alamos, is scheduled for Wednesday night.