Volleyball taken down by Santa Fe

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By Phil Scherer

The early season struggles of the Los Alamos High School varsity volleyball team continued Wednesday evening, as they fell at home to Santa Fe High School 3-1.

It was clear from the start that the Hilltoppers would have a tough time containing the attackers of Santa Fe, as the sound of the ball hitting the ground after a spike from the Demons boomed throughout the gym time after time.

Santa Fe controlled much of the first set, jumping out to a 14-9 lead and never looking back. Despite the Hilltoppers’ attempt to come back late in the set, it was not enough. Santa Fe took the first set 25-18.

Emme Segler was the top finisher for LAHS in the first set, as she recorded three kills. Kimberly McKinley, Natalie Gallegos and Elodie Theillez each recorded two of their own in the set.

The Hilltoppers came out as an inspired group in the second set. Despite falling behind early, they kept fighting and evened the score at 7-7.

LAHS then went on a run that gave them an 11-7 lead, which forced Santa Fe to take a timeout.

The Hilltoppers did not slow down after that, however, extending their lead to 19-13. Though the Demons made it close, LAHS escaped the second set with a 25-19 victory, evening the match 1-1.

Gallegos put on a great show in the set, as she recorded six kills. Many of those came at crucial times when Santa Fe was attempting to narrow the scoring margin. McKinley had three kills of her own, while Theillez and Sophia Salazar both had two.

The Hilltoppers also picked up a pair of ace serves in the set, one from Salazar and the other from Desere Martinez.

The momentum from the second set did not carry over to the third, as Santa Fe’s aggressiveness was too much for the Hilltoppers to handle. The Demons jumped out to an 8-3 lead, and extended it to 16-5 before LAHS could respond.

Though they closed the gap slightly late in the set, it was not enough. Santa Fe took the set 25-16 and took a 2-1 lead, needing just one more to win.

The bright spot for LAHS in the third set was Gracie Swenson, who recorded three ace serves in a row and breathing life into the gym.

Despite those aces and Theillez’s three kills, the Hilltoppers were unable to keep pace as Santa Fe displayed its dominance.

Facing a must-win fourth set, LAHS came out determined and was able to keep the set close throughout. After falling behind 20-17, the Hilltoppers responded with four straight points to take a 21-20 lead.

They were unable to hold it, however, as Santa Fe fired back to take a 23-22 lead.

LAHS was unable to score after that point, and fell in the deciding set 25-22. Santa Fe won 3-1.

Theillez did everything she could in the final set for the Hilltoppers, picking up six kills. In the match, she had a total of 13, which led LAHS. Gallegos added two kills in the final set, giving her 10 total.

The loss drops the Hilltoppers to 2-6 this season, including an 0-2 record at home.

The team will once again hit the court on Saturday against Rio Grande High School on the road in Albuquerque. Rio Grande is 0-3 this season, and has yet to win a single set.

Last season, LAHS defeated Rio Grande in straight sets at home. Saturday’s match will begin at 2:30 p.m.