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Volleyball players earn all-district honors

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By Phil Scherer

After an outstanding finish to the regular season, several members of the Los Alamos High School volleyball team earned all-district accolades.

LAHS junior Natalie Gallegos was named the District 2-4A player of the year, while head coach Joe Palmer was named the district coach of the year. In addition, Gallegos, Sophia Salazar and Elodie Thelliez were named first-team all-district performers.

The Hilltoppers enjoyed an outstanding turnaround this season. When Palmer took over in mid-September, the team got on a roll and won the District 2-4A regular season and tournament championships, defeating Pojoaque Valley for both titles.

LAHS advanced to the state tournament, where the team was defeated by Hope Christian in the Round of 12.
Gallegos led the Hilltoppers with 244 kills, and added 107 blocks, one of the top totals in the state. She recorded a kill on more than 36 percent of her attacks, and was among the most reliable players on the court at all times.

Just a junior, she stepped into a leadership role this season and acted as a captain. She got stronger as the season moved along, and came up with some of her best performances in the district championship game, and at the state tournament.

Salazar and Thelliez also had outstanding seasons, with both acting as the team’s top attacker at different points throughout the year. Salazar finished the year with 236 kills, while Thelliez finished with 124. Thelliez proved to be an invaluable member of the team down the stretch, as she took over in the games against Pojoaque Valley.

Thelliez was also great at distributing the ball, as she finished with 120 assists and handled the ball more than 350 times.

Salazar also proved to be highly effective handling the ball, as she received 274 serves, second most on the Hilltoppers.

Due to the team’s dramatic mid-season turnaround, Palmer was named district coach of the year. From the time he took over following the Tournament of Champions in Santa Fe in mid-September, the Hilltoppers only lost one regular season game. That came at home against Pojoaque Valley. He later defeated the Elkettes twice, once at home and once on the road.