Tigers ground Eagles, lead league with Jags

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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.

The Tigers won 25-13, 27-25, 25-20 at the Los Lunas High gym on the strength of a scrappy team performance that took away from the potential head-to-head matchup of senior outside hitters — Belen’s Victoria Spragg and Los Lunas’ Katie Inman.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: SENIOR CARLEY MEDINA of Los Lunas High (3) hits a winner past Belen juniors Charlene Mier (6) and Kaylyn Gomez (5) during the Tigers’ three-set win over the Eagles on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Spragg had her moments, unleashing some awesome kills. But in the end, Inman and her Los Lunas teammates played more effectively, repeatedly digging balls and getting enough movement to consistently win points against Belen.

“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 one. 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. The two teams battled back and forth, the the Tigers went on a 9-2 run to take a 23-20 lead and appeared ready to close out the set. But the Eagles again rallied to tied the match at 23-23.

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.”

The Tigers followed up Tuesday’s win at home with a solid three-set win at Grants. Los Lunas handed Grants their first district loss with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-21 win over the Lady Pirates to go to 6-6, 2-0 in league play.

The Tigers hosted Gallup at home Tuesday night before travelling to Gallup Miyamura Thursday night.

Belen followed their loss at Los Lunas with a tough five-set loss at Gallup High Thursday night. The Eagles dropped the first set 25-14 but rallied to take set two 25-21.

The Bengals took set three 25-20, but Belen bounced back to win set four 25-18 to force a decisive set five, which Gallup won 15-10 to take the match. The Eagles stand at 5-6 and 0-2 in district after the week’s losses and travelled to Gallup Miyamura Tuesday. Belen hosts county rivals Valencia at home tonight at the BHS gym.

Valencia High opened District 6-4A play with a pair of matches on the road last week and kept pace with county rivals Los Lunas.

On Tuesday, the Jaguars claimed a five-set win on the road at Gallup High. The Jaguars won set one but lost the next two sets before roaring back to beat the Bengals 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12.

Valencia then traveled back to Gallup on Thursday, sweeping Gallup Miyamura in a strong three-set win, 25-19,15-13, 25-13. With their pair of wins, the Jaguars moved to 8-3, 2-0 in league play.

Valencia hosted second- place Grants (7-4, 1-1) Tuesday night and a match at county rival Belen tonight at the Belen High School gym. Look for Web First report on the Valencia-Belen match to be posted at www.news-bulletin.com during the day Friday.