Volleyball: Pojoaque earns 3A title over Portales

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By Mike Cote

The Pojoaque Elks earned their second-straight state Class AAA volleyball title and third title since 2006 Saturday night.
The Elks defeated the Portales Rams 25-16, 25-18, 25-22 to take the title.
It was the third title captured by the Elks under the direction of head coach Brian Ainsworth.
Pojoaque also defeated Portales in 2009 to claim that title.
The Elks, who finished the 2010 season with a record of 17-4, swept the very tough District 5 this season to earn the top seed heading into the tournament.
In just its second match of the season, Pojoaque defeated Los Alamos, which garnered the No. 4 seed in Class AAAA, by a final of 3-1.
Pojoaque’s only three losses of the season to New Mexico schools came against two 5A schools, Cleveland and Rio Rancho, and Class 4A champion Artesia.
Also Saturday, the No. 2 seeded Artesia Bulldogs upset the top-seeded St. Pius X Sartans for the Class 4A state volleyball championship.
Artesia came back from a set down in the 4A state title match, defeating St. Pius 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-21.
It was the first state championship for the Bulldogs since 1978 and their third state title overall.
Artesia won its pool Thursday, then upended Kirtland Central in straight sets in Friday morning’s quarterfinal. In Friday evening’s semifinal, Artesia put together an impressive showing against the third-seeded Albuquerque Academy Chargers.
St. Pius dropped Los Alamos in the tournament, in straight sets during Friday’s semifinal to get to the state title match.
It was the third straight season St. Pius reached the championship match, losing in 2008 to Moriarty and 2009 to Goddard.
In Class 5A this season, Gadsden High School also pulled off an upset, beating top-seeded Rio Rancho Cleveland in the championship. In other finals, Texico defeated Tularosa 3-0 to earn the Class AA title, Tatum held on for a 3-1 victory over Ft. Sumner to win the A championship and Elida was a straight-set winner over Grady in the Class B championship match.