Cleveland’s Haylie Griego dives and keeps a ball in play in the first set Tuesday evening, as teammates Aubrey Ortiz (1) and Sophia Bacahui (3) stand by if more help is needed. (Herron photo)


Cleveland High School maintained its quest to repeat as District 1-5A volleyball champs Tuesday night after a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 25-14 victory over visiting Rio Rancho.

All that remained for the Storm (16-5, 5-2 in 1-5A) were a victory Thursday at 6:30 over visiting Volcano Vista, which the Storm swept Oct. 11 in the Ring of Fire, and a triumph over winless, last-place Atrisco Heritage Academy on Nov. 1 on the Jaguars’ court.

CHS coach Charity Gomez said the victory may have been sparked by a change in terminology she made earlier.

“I was using the word ‘attacking,’ like, ‘Let’s be real good attackers.”’ I changed my word to ‘scorers.’

“I feel like we’re trying a little bit more … we’re trying to score now. We were trying to attack it hard,” she said. “I think – I want to believe – that since I changed my wording, there’s a little more focus on scoring.”

It paid dividends.

“We played clean volleyball, except that second set,” she said. “We were a little off in our serving in the second (when we had three service errors), but once we kind of came back and played clean volleyball, we were able to handle it.”

The Storm made it look easy in the third set, as Sophia Bacahui served five consecutive points, helping the Storm pull away from a tie at 11 to a 16-11 lead. The Rams later got within two, 19-17, bhut a service error of their own got the serve back to Cleveland, and a kill by Ceci Gomez was the last point the Rams got.

The Storm swept out to an 8-2 lead in the fourth set, playing near-errorless volleyball except for two service errors the rest of the way, and had a double-digit lead, 22-11, before ending the action.

Marian Hatch had 45 assists, Aubrey Ortiz had 25 digs, while Lauren Snippen, with 12 kills, and Kelsey Heffner, with 11 kills, paced the Storm’s front line.

Ceci Vance had a game-high 17 kills for the Rams (14-7, 4-2), and Ashleigh Meyer came up with 13 digs.

The Rams close out the regular season next week, hosting Volcano Vista Tuesday and then head down the hill to meet Cibola, a match that could decide second place, on Thursday.