Volleyball: Toppers top Hobbs at Zia Classic

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By Mike Cote

Although the Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team won just one of three contests at last weekend’s Zia Classic, head coach Diana Stokes was generally happy with what she saw.

Los Alamos topped Class AAAAA Hobbs 3-0 in bracket play. That win was sandwiched in between losses to Ruidoso, 3-1, and Las Vegas Robertson, 3-2.

The Zia Classic was co-hosted by Roswell and Goddard High Schools.

“It was an overall good weekend,” Stokes said. “Every team we faced was a challenge and the girls worked hard.”

Los Alamos took second in its pool, splitting two sets with Silver and Roswell, while sweeping its two sets against Lovington.

Silver took the first set 21-15 in pool play, but Los Alamos bounced back to win the second set 21-9. The Hilltoppers also lost the first set to Roswell 21-16 but finished strong in the second set, winning 21-15.

Stokes said in all three pool play matches Los Alamos was walking onto the floor cold while its opponent had just finished playing, which she though was a factor in the two first-set losses.

The Hilltoppers beat Lovington 22-20, 21-8.

With their second-place finish in pool, Los Alamos was seeded to play against Ruidoso, one of the top Class AAA squads in the state and one of the better defensive teams Los Alamos has seen this season.

Oksana Tretiak had three block kills in the match and had a perfect service match to lead the effort, but the Warriors came away with a 25-9, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16 win.

Jessica Stokes had 21 assists in the match along with three block kills. Sabrina Little and Alex Nichols led the offensive effort, combining for 17 spike kills.

Sara Scott had a good defensive outing with 18 digs and reserve Shannon Burns was credited with nine digs.

In their second match against Hobbs, Taylor Ealey finished with 14 kills and two blocks as the Hilltoppers won 25-20, 25-17, 25-13.

Along with her big match at the net, Ealey also had four ace serves.

Little again had a good showing with six spike kills, while Nichols and Tretiak each finished with five. Stokes gave out 24 assists and was credited with 13 service points.

Ealey started off the season slowly but is starting to come around. She put in a second-straight good tournament performance — she was named to the All-Tournament squad at the Moriarty Invitational a week earlier.

In its final match of the tournament, Los Alamos again faced a tough Class AAA squad, the Robertson Cardinals.

Coach Stokes said she thinks AAA might be the best classification in the state this season with many teams being the equal of or superior to some of the top big schools in the state.

“There were times when the girls played hard and other times that they were flat,” Stokes said of her team’s performance against Robertson.

Los Alamos dropped the first two sets to Robertson before bouncing back. It led in all but one of the five sets but had trouble closing contests out.

Robertson escaped the late comeback attempt, winning 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 17-25, 16-14.

Ealey had 13 kills, Nichols had 10 Little had nine for the Hilltoppers (4-5), while Stokes had her tournament-best performance with 35 assists.

Los Alamos served well throughout the match, with Nichols getting four aces and not missing a serve in 20 attempts, while Ealey was 18 of 18.

Coach Stokes said Molly Willms and Nicole Moore were solid at the right side of the net throughout that match as well.

Los Alamos will face not only another solid AAA squad, but a rival as well when it travels to St. Michael’s tonight.