Cleveland High libero Aubrey Ortiz made a valiant dive for this ball, which she can’t locate in front of some future volleyball players in the RAC. (Herron photo)
Winning three of four sets against their city foe for the third time in a row, visiting Cleveland High outlasted Rio Rancho (26-24, 18-25, 25-12, 25-17) in a loud and obviously pink-oriented Rams Athletic Center on Oct. 6.
“This is our home,” chanted Cleveland High students, standing opposite their team’s bench, as their spikers pulled away from a 19-13 lead in the decisive set. Sophomore Kelsey Heffner slammed home a few kills in the Storm’s 6-4 run to close out the victory.
The Storm (11-5, 1-1 in 1-5A) led early in the first set, which stayed close and had 15 ties – demonstrating how evenly matched the city’s teams can be.
Down the stretch, the game was knotted at 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24. A combo-block by Lauren Snippen and Emma Morey-Thorson took the Storm to set point, and the Rams returned the final point out of bounds.
The Rams (10-6, 1-1) used a 7-0 run behind the serves of Ceci Vance to take the lead and run away with the second set, trailing only once (4-3). It was during this set that the Rams students began, “This is our home,” with CHS students having the final say.
The storm used a 10-0 run in the third set, with Sophia Bacahui serving, to take the lead to keep, 12-4, before a net violation resulted in sideout.
The Rams could get no closer than three the rest of the way.
The final set was tied for the fourth and final time at 7-all, before the Storm assumed control, with a Morey-Thorson kill ending the two-hour match.
CHS coach Charity Gomez was asked what led to her team’s uncharacteristic seven service errors in the fourth set, four of which provided four of the Rams’ first six points.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking when they go back there (to serve),” she said, wondering if her girls were thinking too much.
“If everyone brings their best every time, let’s see what happens.”
RRHS had nobody finishing in double-figure kills, although Jenny Baker had 19 digs and Vance added 16. Senior setter Ashleigh Meyer came up with 33 assists.
The Storm were led by Morey-Thorson (aka Emma Wild), who had 13 kills and six blocks. Snippen also had 13 kills, to go with three aces. Heffner had nine kills and four blocks. Aubrey Ortiz, Kendra Frazier and Bacahui combined for 45 digs.
This week, the Storm are at Volcano Vista on Tuesday and home this evening at 6:30 to meet Atrisco Heritage Academy.
Next week, they’re at Sandia Tuesday in a non-district affair and at Cibola on Thursday. Both matches start at 6:30 p.m.
The Rams are at Volcano Vista at 6:30 Tuesday, which is their lone match of the week. Next week, RRHS is home to face Cibola on Tuesday and Atrisco Heritage Academy on Thursday. Both matches in the RAC start at 6:30 p.m.