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The debut for Garry Maskaly and the 2009 Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team didn’t go as well as they might have hoped Saturday.
Los Alamos picked up a win in the opening game of its season and narrowly lost a hotly-contested game two, but the Pojoaque Elks were in control the balance of the contest, picking up a 3-1 victory at Griffith Gymnasium.
After surviving a late rally from the Elks, the Hilltoppers grabbed a win in the first game, but the Elks swept the next three games to earn the 23-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-13 win.
Maskaly, a longtime coach at the club and sub-varsity level for Los Alamos, made his debut as the head of the Hilltopper program Saturday against Pojoaque, Los Alamos’ longtime rival.
Pojoaque, which is known for playing stellar defense year-in and year-out, showed why its defense is one of the most respected in northern New Mexico, neutralizing Los Alamos’ attack for the bulk of Saturday’s contest.
The Elks committed just 12 unforced errors combined in the final two games of the match, keeping the pressure squarely on the Hilltoppers, while the 5-foot, 5-inch Dionna Montoya collected 10 spike kills in games three and four.
While the Hilltoppers were generally able to avoid errors for most of the contest, their powerful attack didn’t get cranked up the way their were hoping in their opener.
The first two games went back-and-forth Saturday, with the teams exchanging leads four times in the first game and five times in game two.
In the opener, neither team was able to open more than 2-point lead until Los Alamos went up 20-17 on a Pojoaque attack error. Los Alamos expanded its edge to 22-18 on a spike kill by outside hitter Molly Willms, a point set up by an impressive dig from Alex Nichols, Los Alamos’ main offensive weapon.
Los Alamos appeared to be ready to close out the opener when Oksana Tretiak’s block kill gave it a 24-19 advantage, but Pojoaque made a late push to get within 24-23 before another Willms spike kill closed the frame out.
Willms finished the contest with seven spike kills, second on the team behind only Nicole Moore’s nine spike kills.
In the second game, after surrendering the lead at 18-19, Los Alamos regained a 20-19 edge with another Willms’ spike kill, but Pojoaque would lose just one more point to even the match at a game apiece.
A pair of early scoring runs by Pojoaque — a 6-point rally early and a 4-point rally at the midpoint — in the third game gave it full control. Despite two spike kills and two block kills from Moore, Los Alamos wouldn’t get any closer than four points after the halfway point in the game. The Hilltoppers (0-1) couldn’t hold on to an early lead in game four, finding no answer for Montoya’s five spike kills and three tip kills on the other side of the net.
Montoya finished with 18 spike kills to lead all hitters Saturday. Teammate Elizabeth Gomez had six spike kills from her middle blocker spot.
Tretiak had five spike kills and Nichols finished with three spike kills and a block kill.