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The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team had the defense to hang with the Cleveland Storm Tuesday, but not enough on offense to pull off the road upset.
The Hilltopper back line, led by Danielle Ortiz, was able to pick up the tough service game and slow down Cleveland’s big hitters for much of Tuesday’s contest, but the Storm eventually cracked through to pick up a 25-18, 25-23, 25-20 victory.
Ortiz, a sophomore, piled up 21 digs for Los Alamos (1-5) to pace the defensive effort. Unfortunately for Los Alamos, however, it was without junior middle hitter Chase Ealey, who was feeling under the weather, which hurt the team both on offense and with its net defense.
Los Alamos head coach Garry Maskaly said despite being shorthanded, the team’s effort couldn’t have been much better.
“It was just a phenomenal overall showing on defense,” he said. “They (the Storm) were really cranking some balls and our defense was doing a really good job.”
Maskaly said his team has done a good job of staying with some of the top teams in the state, including Cleveland and Texico — one of the best small-school programs in New Mexico — which it faced this weekend at the Pinto Invitational in Moriarty.
Despite being swept in that contest, in the first round of elimination play at the tournament, Los Alamos hung right with Texico in all three games, with Texico prevailing 25-20, 25-21, 25-20.
At Moriarty, Los Alamos was also swept by Portales, a match Maskaly said went poorly for his team. Los Alamos bounced back to topple Capital, its District 2AAAA rival in straight sets to earn its first victory of the season.
Tuesday, Sabrina Little finished with six spike kills and Alicia Rendon, who played on the back line for much of last season, finished with five spike kills, playing the second and third games at outside hitter.
The Hilltoppers will be at another weekend tournament when they travel to Roswell for the Zia Classic.