Tourney face-off an early preview for LLHS, BHS

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The Los Lunas and Belen volleyball teams faced each other in the opening game of the Tournament of Champions Gold Bracket over the weekend — a preview of their upcoming district matches.

The Tigers won their battle against the Eagles in three games on Friday, but both teams finished the tournament going 1-2 after facing tough competition.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: SOPHOMORE JORDAN HOLLAND, right, of the Los Lunas volleyball team, left, makes a kill in the game against Albuquerque Volcano Vista last week. Holland and the Tigers entered the Gold Bracket of the Santa Fe High Tournament of Champions last weekend and ultimately finished in fourth place.

After winning every game in pool play to earn the a No. 1 seed, Los Lunas entered their match against Belen Friday night with confidence, said coach Amy Bell. What resulted was a 25-17, 25-20, 25-21 Tiger win over the Eagles.

“We played pretty well but so did Belen — they’re a scrappy team,” said Bell. “Overall we played very well as a team. Everyone contributed and played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”

Belen coach Dominick Romero said his team played from behind the entire match.

“We were on the verge,” he said. “There were opportunities but we couldn’t put together any long runs or rallies. They made a few more runs in first set, enough to give them the lead. They’ve got some good personnel.”

The Tigers moved to the winner’s bracket semifinals, where they came up against 2012 Class 4A runners-up Piedra Vista. The Panthers came out quickly and controlled the match, winning 25-20, 25-12, 25-20. Los Lunas then moved to the third-place game, falling to the host Santa Fe High 25-20, 25-21 and 25-22.

“Piedra Vista is a very good team,” said Bell. “They haven’t lost a match all season and we were a little intimidated. I wasn’t disappointed.”

However, Bell said she was disappointed in the final game against the Demonettes.

“They were in all three games but we made far too many errors,” Bell said. “We made it too easy for them to earn points. We were basically giving them points.”

Bell said sophomore hitter/blocker Jordan Holland and sophomore setter Kelsey Bell, the coach’s daughter, had particularly good showings during the tournament.

Belen moved into the consolation bracket on Saturday, also facing a state semifinalist in defending Class 3A champion Pojoaque Valley. The Elkettes won 25-15, 25-12, 25-14 sending the Eagles to the seventh-place game, where Belen lost game on but roared back to defeat Las Vegas Robertson 23-25, 25-15, 25-20 and 25-11.

Romero said going in, that his team wanted to be in the Gold Bracket, citing Pojoaque as a solid opponent.

“That team is phenomenal, really solid, just a real fluid team,” Romero said. “We saw our draw in the Gold Bracket and knew we’d face tough competition all weekend.”

Things came together for the Eagles against the Lady Cardinals, Romero said.

“We led pretty much throughout,” he said. “The girls were solid and sharp throughout all four sets and really took care of business in the last three. It was great to leave with a win.”

Senior hitter Victoria Spragg was named to the Tournament of Champions All-Tournament team for the second tournament in a row.

Los Lunas (2-6) played Class 5A Albuquerque High at home on Tuesday then travels to Albuquerque Eldorado tonight. Results of those matches, as well as Valencia High’s match against Albuquerque West Mesa tonight, are available online at www.news-bulletin.com in our “Web Exclusive” story.

Belen (5-4) now has the week off to prepare for their District 6-4A opener at Los Lunas High on Tuesday, Oct. 1.