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LAHS volleyball struggles against St. Michael’s

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By Phil Scherer

With a deadly combination of size and speed, the St. Michael’s High School volleyball team is one of the frontrunners for a state championship in Class 3A this season. Tuesday in Santa Fe, the Lady Horsemen proved to be too much for Los Alamos High School to handle, as the Hilltoppers fell 3-1. 

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From the first serve of the match, it was obvious that it would be a challenge for the Hilltoppers to keep up, as the Lady Horsemen always seemed to be in the right spot on the floor, jumping out to a quick 8-0 lead in the first set. 

After falling behind 12-2 in the set, LAHS seemed to settle down a bit and played with more confidence, but the deficit was too large to overcome as the Hilltoppers fell 25-12 to go down 1-0. 

The second set was far more competitive, as the Hilltoppers grabbed an early lead and hung with the Lady Horsemen through the middle part of the set. However, the LAHS blockers struggled to defend against the strong attacking of St. Michael’s in the latter part of the set, falling into a hole once again. 

Despite a tough effort, the Hilltoppers lost the second set 25-19 to go down 2-0. 

The third set was by far the most exciting of the night, as the teams traded points throughout the set. LAHS’ top attackers, Sophia Salazar and Natalie Gallegos, were finally able to find holes in the St. Michael’s defense and deliver perfect spikes to keep the Hilltoppers alive. 

Also key in the set was Elise Olivas, who mainly works as a setter for the Hilltoppers. In the third set, however, she took advantage of some opportunities to attack, and delivered three fantastic kills. 

After going up 20-16 in the set, the Hilltoppers struggled to close it out, allowing St. Michael’s to even the score at 23-23. But LAHS remained determined, earning two points in a row to win the third set 25-23 to stay alive in the match trailing 2-1. 

The team’s energy wasn’t as high in the fourth set, though, as St. Michael’s jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Attacking errors and service errors plagued the Hilltoppers in the set, as LAHS was never able to get an extended rally going. 

St. Michael’s won the fourth set 25-14, and took the match 3-1. 

Salazar and Gallegos led the Hilltoppers with 11 kills apiece, and Olivas added five kills. 

Olivas also led the team in assists for the second match in a row with 13.

Kyla Sandoval earned the only ace serve of the match for LAHS, and led the Hilltoppers in digs and serves received as she played well as the team’s libero. 

The Hilltoppers return home 6 p.m. Tuesday for a non-district matchup against St. Pius, last year’s Class 5A state runner-up. The Sartans defeated the Hilltoppers in straight sets last year in Albuquerque.