Volleyball: LA drops Taos in straight games

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By Mike Cote

Things are going so well for the Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team right now, about the only thing it has to fear is a letdown.


But after getting up on the Taos Tigers early, the Hilltoppers didn’t have to worry about a letdown Saturday afternoon.

The Hilltoppers continued their remarkable run Saturday, downing the Tigers in straight games at Griffith Gymnasium. The Hilltoppers were simply too much for the overmatched Tigers as they rolled to a 25-9, 25-8, 25-10 victory in District 2AAAA play.

Saturday’s win over Taos was the 10th in a row for Los Alamos, which hasn’t surrendered even a single game in nearly a month.

Los Alamos wasn’t spectacular Saturday, but played well enough on both offense and defense to befuddle Taos, which is slogging through a winless 2009 season.

Taos struggled in all phases of the match and Los Alamos, which made use of all of its many weapons, barely broke a sweat in earning the victory.

Last week was an eventful one for the Hilltoppers. In addition to winning a pair of district matches — it beat Capital 3-0 on the road Wednesday — they found out Wednesday they had earned the No. 2 ranking in the state, according to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s weekly poll.

While hearing that news could’ve easily been a distraction, it was quite the opposite. Hilltopper head coach Garry Maskaly said his group redoubled its efforts in practice this week.

“For the girls, it’s nice for them,” said Maskaly, the team’s first-year head coach. “It can be a double-edged sword if they get overconfident…but early in the season we were struggling with our confidence. It’s been a long time since a Los Alamos team was ranked No. 2.”

Los Alamos put together some impressive scoring runs in all three games Saturday to pick up the victory over Taos (0-12 overall, 0-5 in 2AAAA) and move one step closer to a regular season district title.

The Hilltoppers (14-3 overall, 5-0 in 2AAAA) actually trailed 3-2 early in the first game, but scored six straight points to pull ahead to stay.

In game two, Los Alamos jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind Stephanie Abney’s service run.

In the third and final game, with Sabrina Little serving, Los Alamos reeled off 15 straight points, including a pair of Little aces, to go up 17-2. The Tigers committed four service-receive errors during Little’s run, while a huge kill supplied by Alex Nichols made the score 16-2, prompting Taos to use a timeout.

The entire contest took only about 50 minutes to complete.

Los Alamos has yet to drop a 2AAAA game in its five district outings and could lock up the district regular season title as early as Oct. 28. Its next district contest is scheduled for Saturday against fourth-place Bernalillo.

Against Taos, Los Alamos rotated its younger players into the contest regularly and its youngsters responded well.

Lynne Cash, a sophomore middle hitter whom Maskaly said could blossom into a force at the net before she’s finished, had five spike kills and a block kill Saturday.

Also seeing time in Saturday’s contest, freshman Danielle Ortiz, one of the tiniest players on any team in AAAA, got in on the back row and had a pair of digs in game two.

“The program is looking strong for the future, even though we’re graduating five players (after this year),” Maskaly said. “The future is looking pretty good.”

The Hilltoppers have just three more matches remaining in the regular season, including an Oct. 28 trip to Española Valley, the first time Maskaly will return to Edward Medina Gymnasium, the place he called home in 2008.

In last week’s coaches’ poll, Los Alamos garnered 78 points, squeaking by the previous No. 2, St. Pius X, by three points. Goddard, which has beaten Los Alamos twice in head-to-head competition was the unanimous choice for the top spot last week, picking up all 10 first-place votes.