The Rams and their fans enjoy having won a point in a recent home match in the RAC. RRHS is back in action at the RAC Friday and Saturday this week. (Gary Herron/Observer)


Longtime Rio Rancho High School volleyball coach Toby Manzanares said last weekend’s annual Volleybash, a 16-team tournament at RRHS, was like “a mini state tournament.”

The top six teams in the latest MaxPreps Class 5A state poll wound up in the Championship and Gold brackets, as did two of 4A’s top squads: No. 1 Goddard and No. 4 Artesia.

Defending 5A champ La Cueva won the Championship bracket, sweeping No. 2 Las Cruces, which had swept the Rams (7-5 before this weekend’s matches) in a semifinal.

No. 1 La Cueva beat No. 4 Centennial in the other semifinal, and the Hawks then beat the No. 6 Rams 3-1 for third place.

In the Gold bracket, No. 5 Cibola swept Cleveland for the title; Goddard swept Artesia for third. The Cougars and Storm swept their 4A foes in the Gold semis.

“What we found about this is everyone’s close to everybody else – we’re points away from each other,” Manzanares said, looking forward to the District 1-5A competition that awaits.

“In another month, stringing some points together and serving it well (will be key),” he said, not about to concede another blue trophy to unbeaten La Cueva, which has already beaten his team and the Storm this season.

The 1-5A clashes, which begin Tuesday for his Rams and Cleveland coach Charity Gomez’s Storm, are “gonna be a battle, as they are year-in and year-out,” he said, “with us, Cleveland Cibola and Volcano Vista finding their footing.

The Rams travel to Atrisco Heritage Academy to begin district action; the Storm are home to meet Cibola again. Both varsity matches are slated to start at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ve got to win our matches at home and win some on the road,” Manzanares said.

Dinks: Goddard and Artesia return to Rio Rancho this weekend for matches at Cleveland and RRHS. The Rams face Artesia Friday at 5 and Goddard visits the RAC Saturday at 12:30. Cleveland entertains Goddard Friday at 5 and Artesia on Saturday at 12:30.

… Cleveland visits Rio Rancho Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the annual “Fight On” match, with proceeds raised through the sale of T-shirts and raffle tickets, plus sponsorship proceeds, going to help raise breast cancer awareness. Three local breast cancer patients will be honored before the match, always a good time to show support by wearing pink. “It’s an event that’s near and dear to us,” Manzanares said.

… The Rams, 15-34 all-time vs. the Storm, beat CHS in two sets of “power pool” action at Volleybash. The Rams won the teams’ first two meetings in 2021, but the Storm won both 1-5A matches. “It’s always a competitive match, pool play or match play,” Manzanares said. “We look to them being well-prepared.”