Volleyball: LA wins a pair in gold bracket play

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team grabbed two match win and two pool play wins at its tournament in Moriarty.

The Hilltoppers picked up victories over a pair of Class AAAA schools, Kirtland Central and host Moriarty Saturday at the Pinto Invitational.

Los Alamos advanced in the tournament to the gold bracket of the Pinto Invitational by placing second in its four-team pool Friday. After a first round loss in pool play, Los Alamos downed Moriarty 3-0 and Kirtland Central 3-1 to wrap up the tournament.

The first round loss by Los Alamos came at the hands of an old Hilltopper nemesis, Goddard, which took a 3-0 victory in their head-to-head contest.

Despite the shutout, Hilltopper first-year head coach Garry Maskaly said his team came away from the loss feeling pretty good.

“The girls think they can play with Goddard,” Maskaly said.” They almost took a game off (Goddard’s Rockets). They’re a lot more motivated going forward.”

Los Alamos and Goddard could face off again this weekend. Los Alamos travels to the Zia Classic in Roswell, which is co-hosted by Roswell High and Goddard.

In Friday’s pool play, Los Alamos downed Valencia and Estancia but lost to Cibola, taking second in the pool.

The second-place finish in pool play put Los Alamos into the tournament’s gold bracket.

Friday night, in the first round of bracket play, the Hilltoppers fell to the Goddard Rockets. The Rockets took the first game handily, 25-13, but Los Alamos gave the Rockets a run for their money in games two and three. The Rockets still held on in those games, however, picking up 25-22 and 25-23 victories.

Maskaly said he liked the way his offense was working in the final two games against Goddard, the second-ranked team in Class AAAA according to last week’s New Mexico High School Coaches Association poll.

“We had some beautiful hits,” Maskaly said. “Goddard was relying on one big hitter and setting her all around the court. If we can clean up our defense, we’ll be fine.”

To open Saturday’s play, the Hilltoppers tripped up the defending Class AAAA state champion Pintos, who appear to have to hunt for replacements for Brandi and Kristin Valencia, two of the top attackers in the state who graduated off the Pintos’ state title squad.

Molly Willms, who is having a solid opening part of her season, led the Hilltoppers with 13 spike kills against Moriarty. Willms scored her 13 putaways on just 29 attempts and committed just one hitting error.

Los Alamos (3-2) was efficient throughout the match, with outside hitter Alex Nichols earning nine spike kills in 24 attempts and likewise making just one error.

After battling through a tough first game, winning it 25-22, Los Alamos took games two and three by counts of 25-19.

Following Saturday morning’s win, Los Alamos took on the Kirtland Central Broncos in its final tournament contest, picking up a 25-15, 22-25, 25-17, 25-18 victory.

Nichols had 11 spike kills against Kirtland Central (0-2) and three others finished with eight kills on the match.

Los Alamos 3, Albuquerque Academy 2

Los Alamos came back from 2-0 deficit at home to knock off Academy’s Chargers in five games Thursday.

The Hilltoppers got a balanced offensive attack from Willms and Nichols leading the way. Willms finished with 12 spike kills to pace the team, while Nichols had nine.

Nicole Moore and Willms had four block kills, while Nichols and Oksana Tretiak finished with three block kills apiece.