Storm senior Maddie Del Greco (2) calls this ball out of bounds Saturday, although an official had the final say. And it was out, for a Storm point in their semifinal setback to La Cueva. (Herrron photo)


For the third time in school history, the Cleveland High School volleyball team ended its season in the Rudy’s  Real Texas Bar-B-Q state tournament, losing to La Cueva.

The Storm, which beat the Bears in the 2012 championship match, fell to La Cueva in 2015 and ’21 championship matches, as well in 2016 and ’19 state tournament earlier matches, and again Saturday, this time in a semifinal match.

The Bears have won their last 13 meetings with the Storm. They moved on to the championship match vs. Las Cruces, which knocked out Cibola, 3-1, in Saturday afternoon’s other 5A semifinal.

Staying unbeaten, the Bears (27-0) defeated Las Cruces (22-5), 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 25-19. La Cueva has won four of the last five championships, and has won 51 of its last 52 matches.

Making few mistakes, keeping the Storm off-balance and having a handful of big arms on the front line, No.1 La Cueva beat the Storm (20-7) 25-14, 25-22, 25-16.

“They’re really, really good,” third-year CHS coach Charity Gomez said. “Our girls did everything they could. We had some moments when we had some opportunities to squeak one out, but that’s a really good team and for us to be in this moment, we’re just grateful for that.”

On their way to Saturday’s semifinal in the Rio Rancho Events Center, the Storm – in order – beat Cibola (3-0), fell to Las Cruces (3-1) and beat Rio Rancho (3-2).

The Rams (19-9), whose loss to Cleveland ended their hopes of claiming the blue trophy, beat Albuquerque High (3-0), lost to Centennial (3-1), and then swept Volcano Vista and Eldorado before their loss to the Storm Friday evening.