Jags and Tigers finish pre-district with wins over Metro-area teams

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Los Lunas and Valencia High volleyball teams each swept Metro-area opponents this past week to conclude the pre-district portion of their schedules. The Tigers and Jaguars both begin league play Tuesday, with VHS going on the road to Gallup and LLHS hosting county rivals Belen High at home.

Look for the News-Bulletin’s “Web First” coverage of the Belen-Los Lunas match at www.news-bulletin.com this afternoon or read about it in our print edition next Thursday.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA HIGH’s MALLORY MUNSON, left, hits a kill shot while Gabriela Calderon, right, and Peyton Linthicum, far right, look on in the Jags three-set win over Albuquerque West Mesa last Thursday.

Valencia moved its win streak to five matches in a row with a pair of three-set wins over Metro-area teams Albuquerque Highland and West Mesa last week.

Against West Mesa at home last Tuesday night, the Jags lost just eight points in set one on their way to dominating 25-8, 25-13, 25-10 win over the visiting Mustangs.

The Jags jumped on West Mesa early in set two, taking a 7-2 lead before the Mustangs were able to settle into the set. Leading 15-6, Valencia out-scored West Mesa 10-6 in the final 16 points to claim set two.

Valencia won the first seven points of set three and looked to be on their way to an easy win. Then the Mustangs rallied to cut the lead to 9-7, but were out-scoured by the Jags, who put the match away with an 8-1 run to end set three.

Valencia (7-3) got effective hitting at the net from sophomore Peyton Linthicum and juniors Brenda Baeza and Mallory Munson as well as steady service from Baeza, freshman Melody Valencia and senior Kendra Pino.

“We focused a lot better as a team and didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Munson.

“Their defense was really good so we had to work harder,” said Linthucum about West Mesa. “Their hitters were kind of hard to read so we had to get there quickly.”

Against Highland, the Jaguars swept the winless Hornets in three sets – 25-10, 25-10, 25-10 – with what Linthicum and Munson said was a more unified effort.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: KRISTIE SANDOVAL of Los Lunas High hits against Volcano Vista on Sept. 17. Sandoval and the Tigers moved to 4-6 with a pair of wins against Albuquerque schools last week.

“We’ve been working a lot on our passing and agility,” said Linthicum. “I think that’s helped us a lot the last two matches.”

Munson, who said she did not play against Highland, agreed.

“Watching that match, I felt we worked more as a team,” she said. “We worked really well together the last two matches.”

Valencia opened District 6-4A play on the road this week, beating Gallup High 3-2 on Tuesday. The Jags play at Gallup Miyamura tonight.

Los Lunas moved to 4-6 on the season with a pair of wins, the first over Albuquerque High at home then at Albuquerque Eldorado, beating both Metro-area teams in four sets last week to finish the pre-district portion of their 2013 schedule.

On Tuesday at Eldorado, the Tigers battled the Golden Eagles early in the match, before taking over in the final two sets to claim a 26-24, 13-25, 25-21, 25-21 victory over Eldorado, which fell to 1-7.

“Katie (Inman) had a good match,” said coach Amy Bell. “She was great as our leader and they really pulled together as a team.”

Inman, a senior, and the Tigers’ other outside hitter, sophomore Jordan Holland, finished with 24 kills and nine kills, respectively, while sophomore Kelsey Bell finished with an incredible 49 assists and sophomore Kimberly Duran had 22 successful serves without an error in the match. LLHS’ servers only had three service errors in the match, the coach said.

“I thought the girls had to work hard to earn points (against Eldorado),” said coach Amy Bell. “They kept the ball in play and played very scrappy.”

Against Highland, Los Lunas lost a close first set but came back to win the final three sets to claim a 22-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-13 win over the Lady Bulldogs.

Outside hitters Inman and Holland finished with 20 and 10 kills, respectively, while Kelsey Bell had 39 assists and freshman Miranda Jaramillo managed five aces in the game.

“The girls did a great job of fighting and hanging in there,” Bell. “We had too many service errors but we ended up with everyone collaborating well for the win.”

Inman also earned all-tournament honors at the Tournament of Champions at Santa Fe High on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20 and 21.

The Tigers began league play with a three-set win over Belen Tuesday night and play at Grants tonight. Belen plays at Gallup High tonight. Look for a recap of the week’s matches in next week’s News-Bulletin.