Coming into Thursday night’s match-up against Albuquerque High, the Los Lunas Tigers had been on a dominant roll, winning six games in a row, and outpacing their opponents in matches won by a staggering 21-4 difference.
With a chance to clinch the District 5A championship, the Tigers took to the court with momentum on their side. Before the first serve was hit, the school took a moment to honor their outgoing seniors on the cheerleading, dance and volleyball teams. One senior, in particular, is the lone fourth-year player on the volleyball team — Kyleigh Fleshman, who also served as the team’s captain, was a key part of the team’s success this season. With 134 kills on 69 sets played, Fleshman ranked second on the team in kill percentage.
To honor her senior season, the team presented Fleshman with a bouquet of flowers and surrounded her with hugs as she entered the gym to a standing ovation from the fans in attendance.
After the pre-game festivities were completed, the Tigers’ focus shifted to the task at hand, winning the District 5A championship.
From the opening serve of the first match, Los Lunas set the tone early on. Highlighted by an imposing net front presence provided by Fleshman, junior middle-blocker Kaysin Robinson, sophomore defensive specialist Aleighia Romero, and sophomore opposite hitter Riley Luther.
The four Tigers held the line at the net and kept the Bulldogs off balance with hard spikes that more often than not resulted in both a kill and a point for Los Lunas. Combined, Fleshman, Robinson, Romero and Luther accounted for 8 kills in the first match.
Los Lunas rolled through the first match, and at one point rattled off 10 unanswered points, as they cruised to a 25-8 first match win.
The Tigers followed up this strong first match performance by continuing to dictate the pace in the second. Coming out strong by scoring the first four points of the match and then answering the first Albuquerque point by scoring the next four again to make it 8-2 early.
This would prove to be the trend for the rest of the second match, as the Bulldogs struggled to keep up with the rapid pace the Tigers were setting.
Los Lunas would slow down towards the end of the second match, which allowed Albuquerque High to cut the deficit to the closest margin it would be all night, ten points. The Tigers would slam the door on any late game comeback however, scoring the final two points to win 25-12.
The third and ultimately final match would be a near carbon copy of the first. The Tigers continued to score points in bunches, with 8 straight being their longest of the match. Los Lunas continued to dominate the net and scored a few aces on serves that helped their winning effort.
When it was all said and done, Los Lunas won the final match 25-8 and swept the Bulldogs in three straight matches, clinching the district championship. The team jumped off their bench and started celebrating on their side of the court, joined by their coaches and parents.
After the game, head coach Tanya Sanchez spoke about her team’s performance.
“They are firecrackers,” Sanchez said. “They come together, they’re a young team but they come to every single play.”
Sanchez also touched on the importance of Fleshman to the team and how her leadership and friendship helped ensure the other players on the team stayed engaged and focused.
Looking ahead to the state playoffs, Sanchez lighted on in the importance of a strong defensive effort from her team to keep their winning ways going.
The Tigers played Rio Rancho High School in the first round of the 2021 State Volleyball Championship for the 5A District Tuesday. The Tigers lost by a score of 3-2.