Lady Tigers, Eagles have ups and downs in first week of 6-4A

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Both the Los Lunas and Belen volleyball teams got two victories this week. That might sound strange to those who know the squads faced each other in Tuesday’s District 6-4A opener.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Belen’s Victoria Spragg, left, and Teige Zeller of Los Lunas reach for a ball in Tuesday’s match. Los Lunas outlasted the Eagles, 3-1, and beat Grants on Thursday to improve to 11-1 overall, while Belen edged Gallup in five games.

Los Lunas won Tuesday’s match, 3-1, but host Belen bounced back from a disastrous first game and looked much stronger as the match went along, gaining a sort of moral victory.

The Lady Eagles used the feel-good effort to bounce back again Thursday, gutting out a 3-2 home win over Gallup. Belen is 5-6 overall and 1-1 in 6-4A.

Los Lunas swept Grants on Thursday at home, and is in excellent position in its quest for a third consecutive undefeated 6-4A season. The Lady Tigers are 11-1 overall and 2-0 in district.

Los Lunas 3, Belen 1

After the visiting Tigers blazed through game one with a 25-13 win, Belen seemed to catch fire. The Tigers won the second game, 25-23, but the Eagles hung on to win the third, 25-20.

Los Lunas closed out the match with a 25-14 win in game four. Belen hasn’t beaten Los Lunas since 2000, and hasn’t even won a game very often in the rivalry.

A lot hinged on the Eagle passing game. When the BHS back row could dig the powerful hits by Los Lunas, and get the ball to its setter, Belen junior Victoria Spragg and other front-line players made it a tough night for the Tigers.

“Victoria is a future Division I college player, and Belen was pumped up and excited,” said LLHS coach Leah Newton. “It’s tough to play there because of the rivalry, and if they can duplicate some of the passing they showed, they’ll give district opponents a lot of problems.”

Newton said she wants her team to be more consistent.

“I’d like us to play with the same energy and enthusiasm in every part of the match,” said Newton.

Belen coach Barbara Rodriguez, who had already been without senior hitter Erica Sluder for the entire season and lost senior setter Lorena Chavira for a few weeks due to injuries, went into Tuesday’s match without another injured senior, Keiana Sanchez-Chavez.

Rodriguez is hoping all three will return to the court and start contributing soon.

“We’re so young, and there’s a big learning curve,” said Rodriguez. “We just need to be more consistent where we don’t let a bunch of points go, all in a row. But I’m pleased with the longevity of some of the rallies — it’s what the game is all about.”

Los Lunas 3, Grants 0

Thursday at LLHS, the host Tigers managed a 25-17, 25-20, 25-22 win over a Grants team that seems improved, especially on the front line.

“They’re scrappy, and their middle (blockers) are big,” said Newton. “They got some blocks on us, but I also felt we blocked and covered really well tonight, also.”

The Lady Pirates (6-5, 1-1) kept Los Lunas from pulling away, thanks in part to the play of junior hitter Sydney Garcia. Grants’ back row struggled, and the Tigers struggled with passing at times.

Grants erased an 18-12 Tiger lead in game three, tying the match at 18-18 and again at 21-21. But the Los Lunas front row took over during the final few points, with Katie Inman slamming home a kill to end the match.

Belen 3, Gallup 2

At Belen on Thursday, the Eagles rallied for their first home win since Sept. 1.

After losing game one, 25-21, Belen posted a 25-16 win in game two. The Eagles lost a 25-20 third game, then won 25-18 to force a decisive game five.

Belen pulled away in the fifth game, winning 15-8.

The loss dropped Gallup to 2-9 overall and 0-2 in 6-4A.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.