Volleyball: Toppers sweep Tigers in 2AAAA

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By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team took another step toward the district championship Saturday at Taos.

After getting warmed up in the first game, Los Alamos cruised to a 3-0 sweep at Taos to stay on the inside track to the District 2AAAA title.

The Hilltoppers, who rarely fire out of the gate, held on in game one for a 25-21 win over the Tigers, then cruised to wins in games two and three, 25-11, 25-12. They got a solid overall team effort minus the help of two starters, Sara Scott and Jessica Stokes.

Stephanie Abney, filling in at the setter position, had 10 assists in game one and turned in a good effort at the service line with three ace serves.

For the match, Abney finished with 27 assists.

Los Alamos now sits at 5-0 in 2AAAA play (10-7 overall) and controls its own destiny for the regular season district crown. A win over Capital in the finale Nov. 1 will clinch the regular season title for Los Alamos, although numerous other scenarios are possible as well.

Taos (0-16 overall, 0-4 in 2AAAA) is going through a rough season. It has so far won just seven games.

Hilltopper head coach Diana Stokes said the Tigers have shown some ability in their two matches, but the fundamentals weren’t there when first-year coach Thomas Duke took over.

“Taos is getting better, but they’re just so far behind,” she said. “I think (Duke is) doing and O.K. job, he just needs a little more time with them.”

Duke won’t have that luxury this season with six of his 10 roster players being seniors.

At the net, Los Alamos got several players involved in the hitting game. Taylor Ealey led the Hilltoppers with nine spike kills, while Alex Nichols, coming off her best performance of the season Wednesday against Capital, finished with eight.

Molly Willms finished with six spike kills, but her biggest contribution of the day came at the service line, where she was credited with four ace serves and a 13-point service run that all but closed out the contest.

Willms, who has a standing deal with Stokes that she can jump-serve if she reaches 20 points, got to do that twice in the third game, getting both jump-serve attempts in.

Defensively, sophomore Brooke Romero finished with 19 digs, a team high. Nichols had 15 digs and Willms added 14 more.

The Hilltoppers won’t play again until Saturday when they host Bernalillo.

“Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we’re going to do some big-time conditioning,” Stokes said. “We’re going to have a solid week of conditioning to get us ready for state. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re just three games away.”