WEB EXCLUSIVE: Belen, Valencia place at Roswell Zia Tourney: Hawks fly past Los Lunas


Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LOS LUNAS HIGH'S Katie Inman (6), Mariah Doyle (15) and Kristie Sandoval (10) await a serve during the Tigers' match against Albuquerque Volcano Vista Tuesday night.

The Belen High and Valencia High volleyball teams were both successful in their respective brackets at the 16-team Roswell Zia Tournament over the weekend while Los Lunas came off a 10-day break to host one of the Metro-area’s toughest teams in a home match this past week.

Roswell Zia Tournament

Belen finishes 5th in Gold Bracket: The Eagles came out of pool play Friday to find themselves in the Gold Bracket of the 16-team tournament in Roswell.

Playing one of Class 5A’s toughest teams and a pair of 4A teams, Belen went 2-1 to claim fifth place with an exciting five-set win over Silver High, winning 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 22-25 and 15-12.

As illustrated by the score, the Eagles and Lady Colts were neck and neck in the match, but Belen (4-2) was able to jump on Silver early in the fifth to blunt the momentum the Lady Colts built up in winning the fourth set. The Eagles then held off a Silver rally to take the short set and the match.

Belen found itself in the consolation side of the bracket after a tough five-set loss to perennial state 5A contenders Clovis. The Lady Cats found the Eagles to be scrappy, but prevailed 25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-7. Belen was able to find ways to battle back and win the second and fourth sets, but Clovis came out hard in the deciding fifth set ad ran out to an insurmountable lead.

Against Deming in the Gold consolation semifinal, Belen played sharp on defense and opportunistically on offense, winning the first two sets before ultimately closing the Wildcats out, taking the match 25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19.

Middle blocker Victoria Spragg was named to the All-Tournament team. Spragg, a senior, was also named to All-Metro Player of the Week on Wednesday.

Belen next plays in the Tournament of Champions at Santa Fe High this weekend.

Valencia tops Silver Bracket: After a tough go in pool play, the Jaguars caught fire in the Silver Bracket of the Zia Tourney, losing only two close sets along the way.

In the Silver championship game, Valencia topped Class 3A Lovington in four sets, winning 26-24, 25-22, 23-25 and 25-17. After three sets close, grinding sets, the Jags jumped out to an early lead on the scrappy Wildcats, who were able to edge out a win in the third set to continue the match.

Valencia (5-3) began bracket play strong with a dominating performance over Chaparral, winning 25-2, 25-12 and 25-5. In the Silver championship semifinal, the Jags won their first two sets against 3A Ruidoso rather handily then fought off a challenge from the Lady Warriors 25-17, 25-18, 20-25, 25-13.

The Jaguars returned to play Tuesday at winless Albuquerque Highland, handing their 5A opponent a crushing three-set defeat as VHS beat the host Hornets 25-10, 25-10, 25-10.

Valencia next plays next Thursday, when they host West Mesa at the Valencia High School gym.

Los Lunas falls in four to Volcano Vista

Coming off a 10-day break following three matches at the Las Cruces Invitational, the Tigers came home to play a tough 5A Hawks team, losing in four sets – 25-14, 16-25, 25-20, 25-21.

After a rough first set, Los Lunas (1-4) seemed to find itself in set two, taking an early lead behind the hitting and blocking of senior Katie Inman and sophomore Jordan Holland. The two teams battled early in the pivotal third set before the Hawks went on a five-point tear that turned the match in their favor, giving them an 18-11 lead.

The Tigers cut the lead to two at 22-20 but Volcano Vista (3-3) closed with the final three points.

The Hawks opened the deciding fourth set on a 10-4 run. The Tigers battled back to cut the lead to two and held it there until the score was 18-17. VVHS then went on a 6-2 run. LLHS staved off two match points but ultimately was unable to salvage the set.

The Tigers next play at the in the Tournament of Champions at Santa Fe High this weekend.

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