Cleveland High’s volleyball team, seen here in a recent match, open the tournament today at noon. The Rio Rancho High School team also plays its first match today, Nov. 15, at noon, at the Rio Rancho Events Center. (Herron photo)


RIO RANCHO – Say what you want about the city’s volleyball coaches, they know how their teams stack up in Class 5A.

A few days before the 12-team bracket for the Rudy’s Real Texas Bar-B-Q State Volleyball Championships came out, Cleveland High coach Charity Gomez figured her team would be the 5 seed; Rio Rancho coach Toby Manzanares wasn’t as precise, saying “9 or 10.”

When the bracket was released Sunday, the Storm (15-8) were the 5; the Rams (11-12) were the 10.

Both teams are in action today, Nov. 16, at noon at the Rio Rancho Events Center, where the Storm meet No. 12 Hobbs and the Rams face No. 7 Volcano Vista, a 1-5A foe that beat them twice this season.

To see the whole bracket, visit Cleveland, Rio Rancho and Bernalillo high schools are sites for other volleyball classifications to determine who moves into Saturday’s finals, also at the Events Center.

The regular season wrapped up last week.

Cleveland 3, Atrisco Heritage Academy 0: Been there. Done that.

For the 10th time in a row with Atrisco Heritage Academy the evening of Nov. 7, the host Cleveland High School volleyball team swept the Jaguars.

The Storm, winning their 15th match of the season and wrapping up the District 1-5A slate with a 6-2 mark, good for second place, haven’t lost to AHA since the 2018 APS Metro tournament, a 3-2 loss.

It was Senior Night and that quartet – Lauren Snippen, Haylie Griego, Baylee Savage and Marian Hatch – weren’t about to suffer a loss after their tearful farewell to volleyball in the Thunderdome.

The Storm jammed the Jaguars (6-17, 0-8) 25-16, 25-5, 25-17 in 62 minutes.

The Storm pulled away from a tie at 14 in the first set to go on an 11-2 run to close it out. Snippen served up five of those points, and junior Kelsey Heffner ended it with a kill to the back line.

More impressive was the way the Storm took control in the second set, with a dozen unanswered points, 11 of them served up by Savage. It figured into CHS’s 14-1 overall run to pave the way for a sweep.

In the finale, which included the Jaguars staying even with the Storm till it was 7-7, Cleveland was just too strong and endured a match-high three service errors. Wild notched back-to-back kills before AHA netted a return to end the match.

Wild led the Storm with 11 kills and Heffner had nine, to go with four blocks. Griego came up with 15 digs and Hatch added 36 assists.

Gomez was in fine spirits after the win, looking ahead to whatever seed – she hoped for a 5 or better – when the bracket was released five days later.

“When I started four years ago, it was that group – with the exception of Snippen,” she said of her departing seniors. “That was the COVID year, and she just didn’t play that year. I don’t have words for it right now; I don’t want to believe it.”

When the season began, she said, she hoped her squad would be one of the top four teams in the state, but two-time state champ La Cueva, Las Cruces and 600-career-wins coach Keith Leupold, district foe Cibola and upstart Los Lunas seemed poised to comprise the top four seeds. The first three swept the Storm, although Cleveland handed Cibola its lone district loss, 3-1, while Los Lunas defeated CHS 3-1.

“I think we’ll end with a 5, which is right there,” Gomez said, “but I like our path as the 5.

“I guess I did have higher expectations, but as the season went on, I understood that maybe we needed some growth in some areas before we got there, and I think we’re there now. … We’re athletic; we’re long; we’re starting to pass it really, really well; we’re serving it really, really well,” she added. “We’re starting to peak at the right time.”

Rams end regular season on 3-match skid

Following their 3-1 loss to visiting Cleveland on Oct. 31, the Rio Rancho High School volleyball team wound up in fourth place of the five-team district.

Volcano Vista 3, Rams 2: On Nov. 7, the Rams lost at the Hawks’ Senior Night, 26-24, 10-25, 25-18, 25-19.

Offensively, Ella Lopez had 18 kills and Ceci Gomez added 13 kills.

The Rams recorded eight aces but had a dozen service errors to offset that.

Alex Shane had 38 assists; Jenny Baker came up with 25 digs.

Cibola 3, Rams 1: In their regular-season finale on Nov. 9, visiting Cibola – coached by former Ram standout Christine Norton – spotted the Rams a first-set win and then took three in a row.

The first-place Cougars swept the Rams (11-12, 2-6) 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-15.

Lopez and Jacey Mader had 13 kills apiece and Gomez had 10, to go with three blocks.

Ashlynn Ellwood and Lopez each accounted for three of the Rams’ eight aces, offset by eight services errors. Baker had 23 digs, Lopez had 19, Reece Cave came up with 14 and Ellwood added 10. Shane had 40 assists in the RAC