RIO RANCHO – 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 — wasn’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.
CHS coach Charity Gomez was in fine spirits after the win, looking ahead to whatever seed — she hoped for a 5 or better — when the bracket is 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.
That’s just how it looks now, because the state tournament bracket isn’t released until Sunday at nmact.org.
“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 lose at Volcano Vista, await visit from Cibola Thursday
Also Tuesday evening, 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.