Volleyball: LA wins 2AAAA tourney

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By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team could hardly be heading into state on a better note.

After going 7-1 in the District 2AAAA regular season, earning the regular season title, the Hilltoppers had to sit around for a week and wait to see who they would play in the 2AAAA championship match Saturday.

Finally, Los Alamos found out it would face the Capital Jaguars for the third time this season. And Saturday, for the third time this season, the Hilltoppers came away with a 3-0 win.

Capital, which went into Saturday’s contest with a berth in the state playoffs possibly riding on the outcome — starting this season, the second-place district finisher no longer gets an automatic bid into the postseason — hung around with Los Alamos through all three games, but Los Alamos still came away with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 victory at Griffith Gymnasium.

Los Alamos, which had already clinched its trip to state with the 2AAAA regular season crown, still put forth the effort it wanted to see after taking a week off and trying to get ready for the start of pool play.

Class AAAA pool play starts Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

“It was really good, actually,” Hilltopper middle hitter Taylor Ealey said. “In this game, we did really good. It was probably the best game we’ve played. That felt really good.”

Ealey, who was named to the All-District 2AAAA first team Saturday night along with teammates Sabrina Little and Jessica Stokes, had five spike kills, five tip kills and three block kills as she frustrated a strong Capital defensive unit throughout.

Along with the first team selections, Los Alamos head coach Diana Stokes was named Coach of the Year for 2008 and outside hitter Alex Nichols was named the district’s Most Valuable Player.

Nichols, whose name was announced dead last, wasn’t expecting to be honored on one of the All-District teams, let alone to be recognized as the district’s top player this season.

“When I didn’t get called for the first team or the second team, I was just like, ‘whatever,’” Nichols said. “It was amazing. It doesn’t get any better.”

Also honored for Los Alamos Saturday were Oksana Tretiak, Molly Willms and Stephanie Abney, who were given district second team nods.

For Stokes, it was her second Coach of the Year honor.

Far more importantly for her, however, was see her team do a lot of good things during Saturday’s match.

“We were able to mix it up, which is what you want to do,” Stokes said. “You want to get everyone hitting and not just rely on one or two hitters.”

Los Alamos (13-8) did that about as well as it had all season Saturday, with nine players earning kills in the match, including recent varsity call-up Alicia Rendon.

Nichols once again led the Hilltoppers with eight spike kills in the match. Little and Tretiak finished with four spike kills.