WEB FIRST: Los Lunas spikers earn tough home win over Belen

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LOS LUNAS – Round one of the Los Lunas-Belen volleyball battles in 2013 went to the Tigers. But LLHS’ three-set win over the Eagles Tuesday night did not come easily.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Buletin Photo: LOS LUNAS HIGH'S Katie Inman (6) and Kristie Sandoval (10) block Belen's Victoria Spragg (7) during the Tigers match against the Eagles Tuesday night in Los Lunas.

The Tigers won 25-13, 27-25, 25-20 at the Los Lunas High gym behind a scrappy team performance that took away from the potential head-to-head match-up between Belen senior outside hitter Victoria Spragg against the Tigers senior outside hitter Katie Inman.

Spragg had her moments, unleashing some awesome kills. But in the end Inman and her Los Lunas teammates showed a more effective game, repeatedly digging balls and getting enough movement to consistently win points against Belen, which fell to 5-5, 0-1 in district.

“I thought Belen played a great match,” said LLHS coach Amy Bell. “They made us work to earn every point and didn’t give us anything easy. We had to really work and play to win.”

The two teams played even early on in set 1. Tied 4-4, Los Lunas then went on a 15-5 run fueled somewhat by kills by Inman to take a 19-9 lead. After a mini-run by the Eagles, Los Lunas closed out with five straight points to take set one.

Belen came out focused in set two, taking a 7-4 lead early behind some solid set-and-hit moves as Spragg registered three kills and a solo block. But Los Lunas rallied to take an 8-7 lead and the two teams battled back and forth for the rest of the set.

Down 17-14, the Tigers went on a 9-2 run to take a 23-20 lead and appeared ready to close out the set. But a big block by Eagles Charlene Mier and Maria Montoya and a cross-court kill by Spragg helped tie the match at 23.

Spragg got another big kill while Inman sent a tap over the net that landed just out of bounds to give Belen a 25-24 lead and set point.

But Inman rallied the Tigers with a kill followed by a service ace by Miranda Jaramillo and a net violation by the Eagles that gave Los Lunas three points and the set with them.

The two teams battled evenly in set three with Spragg again powering the Belen attack with some timely kills. The Eagles took a 13-10 lead but Los Lunas responded with a 12-5 run to take a 22-13 lead. Belen closed to 23-20 but Inman managed a tap shot to the middle followed by a thunderous kill to finish the set and the match.

“It was a competitive match, both teams played sharp and played well,” said Eagles coach Dominick Romero.  “It was toe-to-toe every set. They just made a few more plays, or a few less errors than what we made. They catch up with you, even those early errors.”

We’re going to clean it up. But I’m proud of the way our girls are competing.”

Los Lunas moved to 5-6 on the season, 1-0 in district.

Also on Tuesday, Valencia opened District 6-4A play with a five-set win on the road at Gallup High. The Jaguars won set 1 but lost the next two sets before roaring back to beat the Bengals 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12.

The Jaguars moved to 7-3, 1-0 in league play.

All three teams played Thursday night, with Belen at Gallup High, Valencia at Gallup  Miyramura and Los Lunas at Grants. Look for a full report on the week’s games in Thursday’s print edition of the News-Bulletin.