RIO RANCHO — Those Cleveland High School volleyball players had to be feeling pretty good as Saturday morning dawned.
The fifth-seeded Storm had swept No. 12 Hobbs easily, then avenged three – yes, three – earlier losses to No. 4 Los Lunas, 3-1 later on Nov. 16, the opening day of the Rudy’s Real Texas Bar-B-Q State Volleyball Championships.
Next, Friday evening, came the No. 1 Las Cruces Bulldawgs, who’d won their last 13 matches by sweep.
Surprise: The Storm took that match to five sets and emerged victorious,
26-24, 16-25, 11-25, 25-18, 17-15. It was a total team effort that lifted CHS from the 2-1 set deficit to the victory.
Azlynn Tittmann paced the offense with 18 kills, and Kelsey Heffner and Emma Wild added eight apiece.
At the net, Lauren Snippen had six blocks, Marian Hatch and Tittmann had four apiece.
Hatch also assisted on 41 points, and libero Hailey Griego came up with 19 digs.
That victory sent the Storm into the final four, in which they met District 1-5A foe Cibola Saturday afternoon.
The No. 3 Cougars couldn’t be considered as strangers – the Storm had handed Cibola its first district loss in the Thunderdome on Oct. 26, 3-1, after having bene swept in three earlier meetings with the Cougars.
But this time, the Cougars disposed of the Storm 25-21, 25-21, 15-25, 25-14, ending the Storm’s adventure at state and sending Cibola into the championship match.
In their final match of the season, the Storm (18-9) had 12 kills from Wild and 10 from Heffner; four blocks from Heffner; 37 assists from Hatch and 18 digs from Griego.
In the championship match the Cougars faced Las Cruces, which got there after beating two-time defending champ La Cueva in four sets, and in Saturday evening’s finale, the Bulldawgs beat the Cougars 25-19, 30-28, 22-25, 25-21.
Cleveland was the only team in New Mexico to beat the champs (26-2); El Paso Franklin had swept Las Cruces in El Paso in the Bulldawgs’ third match of the season.
Rams’ run at state ends second day
Just as Cleveland had done in its first-round match – beat a team it had lost to – the No. 10 Rams did likewise.
For the Rams, it was a 3-2 victory over District 1-5A foe Volcano Vista (19-25, 26-24, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13) on Nov. 16.
After splitting the first two sets, RRHS gathered momentum after that 26-24 victory and went on an 8-1 run to take a convincing 22-11 lead in the third set, which ended with a laser-kill by senior Ella Lopez, which sailed off a Hawk and into the lower bowl of the Events Center.
The fourth set was tied five times, lastly at 21, with the Rams’ last lead at 9-6. A kill at set point by Jacey Mader prolonged the set briefly, making it 24-23, but a quick return evened the match and set the stage for the first to 15.
It was also tied five times, but not as close as the fourth set – the Rams were down 13-11 before running off the final four points of the match, two on Lopez kills and the final two on aces from Cienega Richards.
La Cueva 3, Rams 0: Not many teams have beaten the two-time Bears, who eked out a five-set victory over the visiting Rams on Sept. 6.
This time, it wasn’t even close: The No. 2 Bears won handily Thursday evening (25-7, 25-20, 25-21) and claimed their 20th match win of the season.
Rams 3, Albuquerque High 0: The No. 9 Bulldogs were swept by the Rams at AHS on Oct. 3, and their Nov. 17 meeting wasn’t any different.
The Rams swept the Bulldogs, 25-13, 25-19, 28-26, in a noon match on Nov. 17.
Eldorado 3, Rams 1: Later Friday evening, the Rams (13-14) saw their season end, but not until they’d rallied in the third set to prolong their campaign.
The No. 6 Eagles, who’d been swept by the Rams in the fifth-place match of the APS Metro tournament in mid-September, won the first two sets, 25-21, 25-20.
The Rams extended their season briefly by winning the third set, 25-23, only to succumb in the fourth set, 25-14.
The Rams finished in seventh place.