While a lot of the talk around town is of next week’s 50th Belen-Los Lunas high school football game, the Lady Eagle and Tiger volleyball teams are readying themselves for their traditional match, which will be played Thursday at Los Lunas.

“We’re trying to get as many people as we can out for that match,” said Los Lunas head coach Tara Trujillo. “We want this to be kind of like the football game one everyone wants to see.”

To help fill the bleachers, the Lady Tigers are promoting the match as “Alumni Night.” The varsity game is expected to start at 6:30 p.m.

The Class 5A Tigers are heavily favored over the Class 4A Eagles. Two matches into the season, Los Lunas is 2-0, with wins over Santa Fe Capital and Peidra Vista, and Belen is 1-1, with a loss to Socorro and a win over its own junior varsity team. Los Lunas has the height advantage, and the Tigers won last year’s meeting in three-straight games.

Belen coach Barbara Rodriguez said the “county bragging rights” aspect of the match can’t be ignored. “I think it means more to the kids because they know some of the kids in Los Lunas, and you want to do well against people you know,” she said.

But both coaches are looking at the match as a chance to get better.

“Every experience is a good learning experience for us, and that’s how we’re going to approach it,” Rodriguez said. “Los Lunas has some nice height. We’re going to look to utilize the block, and we’ll see how our blocking schemes work against them.

“It’ll be another match for us but with a little more fire.”

“Beyond the rivalry, for us it’s just another pre-district game,” said Trujillo. “We’re just looking to improve. It makes it a little more exciting because it’s Belen, but we want to focus on our goals and do what we set out to do.”

In terms of height, Belen matches up against Los Lunas better than it has in recent years. But in order to pull off an upset, the Eagles will have to stand up to their county rivals.

“We’ve ended up looking pretty fragile, so far. We need to be a lot tougher,” Rodriguez said.

But the pressure will be on Los Lunas, which is expected to win. “We beat them last year,” Trujillo said, “so we’ve got to keep it going.”

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