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Atomic City Update: LAHS volleyball shows signs of big progress

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By Phil Scherer

One of the most important things I look for when I watch high school sports is improvement. Sometimes, improvement can be small, and other times it can be obvious, but any type of improvement is important. 

When I watch the Los Alamos High School volleyball team this year, the improvement is clear. Last year, the young players were often unsure of their responsibilities and made far too many errors in attacking, blocking and serving. This year, with everyone on the team a year older, the confidence is higher, the skill level has been raised and everyone knows their own individual responsibilities. 

Now, it’s only a matter of time before these improvements show up in the win column. The team currently has a 1-3 record, losing three games against St. Michael’s, Santa Fe and St. Pius after winning the opening match of the year against Bloomfield. 

However, this is not a team you can judge fairly by looking at their record. Tuesday night’s match against St. Pius was one of the most exciting matches that will be played all season in New Mexico volleyball, with the teams trading points and sets all night. The match was decided in extra points in the final set, and the atmosphere was electric. 

Even being competitive in the match was a step in the right direction for the Hilltoppers. St. Pius has defeated the Hilltoppers every time they have faced off since at least 2007. Most of the matches have been far from competitive, yet the Hilltoppers nearly pulled off the stunning upset this time. 

Sophia Salazar and Natalie Gallegos proved they will be forces to be reckoned with throughout the season, and the team proved they would not back down from a challenge. Also stepping up this year has been senior libero Kyla Sandoval, who has acted as a stabalizing force, and Elodie Thelliez, who leads the team in assists from the front line.

In previous seasons, a loss like this one may have been a deathblow, a setback too large to overcome. But I get the sense that is not the case with this group. 

The sense I got following the match was that the team was more disappointed than sad after losing to St. Pius. They felt they were good enough to win, and thought they were going to do it. I felt the same way. If the team continues to play like they did against the Sartans, many wins will follow. 

The schedule has not been easy to this point, and it will not let up now, with the Moriarty and Santa Fe tournaments coming the next two weekends and a match against always-tough Cleveland to follow. 

These present opportunities for the Hilltoppers to build momentum and keep the confidence growing. This is a group capable of doing big things as the season moves along, and I am confident that the results will follow. The players appear stronger every time they take the court. I wish the Hilltoppers could play St. Pius again in a month or so. I have a feeling the Sartans’ long, long win streak over LAHS might come to a close given another opportunity.