LA ranked No. 4 in preseason 4A poll

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Volleyball: Pojoaque tops 3A rankings, two teams will face off to open season

By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team finished fourth in the Class 4A preseason coaches poll released Wednesday.
Los Alamos picked up 74 points and a first-place vote in the preseason prep poll, conducted by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association. The poll is voted on by volleyball coaches from around the state.
The Hilltoppers, who have had several good showings at tournaments this summer, will open their season Aug. 27 against the state’s top team in Class 3A, Pojoaque.
The Class 4A poll was topped by Artesia. The Bulldogs, who won the 4A state title in 2010, picked up nine of 13 first-place votes to grab 124 points and finish well ahead of St. Pius X, the runner-up at the 2010 state tournament.
Albuquerque Academy finished third in the poll, 10 points ahead of Los Alamos.
Last season, the Hilltoppers finished with a record of 17-6, winning 16 matches in a row before their season-ending loss to St. Pius in the 4A semifinals.
Although Artesia was the clear favorite in the preseason poll, there is little consensus at this point how the rest of 4A looks. A whopping 22 of the 27 schools in the classification received at least one vote in the NMHSCA preseason rankings.
Interestingly, every one of the five teams in District 2-4A, which was not considered one of the stronger districts in the state in 2010, received at least five points in the poll. Only one other 2-4A team, however, cracked the preseason top 10 — Santa Fe, which was tied for ninth with 19 points.
The Hilltoppers will face no less than seven ranked opponents during the 2011 regular season.
Los Alamos’ opening day opponent, Pojoaque, is the two-time defending Class 3A champ. Pojoaque swept Portales, the consensus No. 2 in 3A, in the 2010 title match.
Pojoaque finished its state championship season with a record of 20-4.
The Elks grabbed five of the six first-place votes in the preseason poll.
In Class 5A, Cleveland and Gadsden finished within six points of each other with Cleveland picking up the preseason No. 1. Between the two, they garnered 13 of the 14 Class 5A first-place votes.
The NMHSCA weekly polls are scheduled to be released starting Aug. 31.

Here are the preseason Class 3A, 4A and 5A volleyball coaches polls. First-place votes are in parentheses.

Class 3A

    Team     Total pts.
1. Pojoaque (5)    59
2. Portales         46
3. St. Michael’s    42
4. Hatch Valley (1)    35
5. Sandia Prep    27
6. Silver        22
7. Santa Fe        21
8. Hope Christian    18
9. Lovington        16
10. Robertson    13

Also receiving votes: West Las Vegas, 12; Shiprock, 10; Ruidoso, 6; Socorro, 2; Hot Springs, 1.

Class 4A

    Team     Total pts.
1. Artesia (9)                  124
2. St. Pius X (2)    92
3. Academy (1)    84
4. Los Alamos (1)    74
5. Piedra Vista    67
6. Roswell        61
7. Moriarty        53
8. Los Lunas        23
9. Santa Fe        19
(tie) Aztec         19

Also receiving votes: Gallup, 16; Bernalillo, 13; Española Valley, 12; Goddard, 11; Deming, 11; Kirtland Central, 10; Valencia, 9; Belen, 6; Capital, 5; Del Norte, 3; Grants, 2; Bloomfield, 1.

Class 5A

    Team     Total pts.
1. Cleveland (7)          127
2. Gadsden (6)             121
3. La Cueva        92
4. Rio Rancho    81
5. Cibola (1)        66
(tie) Sandia        66
7. Las  Cruces    64
8. Mayfield        53
9. Eldorado        34
10. Clovis         17

Also receiving votes: Carlsbad, 15; Manzano, 13; Volcano Vista, 9; Hobbs, 5; Rio Grande, 3; Alamogordo, 2; Oñate, 1; Albuquerque, 1.