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Matadors to face Storm in 5A final

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Cibola’s Tatyana Battle (6) hits the ball past Cleveland’s Briana Ainsworth (3) during the 5A state volleyball semifinal match Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Cibola’s Tatyana Battle (6) hits the ball past Cleveland’s Briana Ainsworth (3) during the 5A state volleyball semifinal match Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

RIO RANCHO – The top seed and the defending champions advanced to the Class 5A state volleyball tournament championship with semifinal victories Friday night.

Sandia held off a scrappy Mayfield team 25-22, 25-17, 25-27, 25-12 to earn one of the berths in the title match tonight at 7.

“It’s awesome, we’re excited,” Sandia coach Megan Holland said. “We’ve had that pressure and target on our backs, and they can fight through it. It maybe pushed them a little more and helped them rise above.”

Freshman Allayah Johnson-Everage racked up 20 kills and junior Miranda Sanchez added 13 kills for the Matadors (18-1), who will play in the final for the first time since 2000 and aim for just their second championship since 1973.

“Today was hard because the energy to play this late at night after playing early this morning, hopefully we’ll be able to carry momentum into the finals and see what happens,” Holland said.

Mayfield (11-13), which entered the tournament as the No. 11 seed, put up a good fight in the third set, but could not carry that momentum into the fourth.

“I think we kind of just eased back and let them have it,” Holland said. “They fought hard and didn’t want to give it up.”

In the other semifinal, Cleveland came from behind to stun Cibola 17-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20.

“It’s going to be tough; they’re a good team; they’re going to battle us,” Holland said. “They’ve got great defense and good setters.”

4A SEMIFINALS: Albuquerque Academy pushed Goddard to a fifth game, but ultimately could not cap the upset of the No. 2 seed.

The Rockets (18-5) held on for a 23-25, 25-21, 25-16, 14-25, 15-11 victory to advance to today’s 3 p.m. title match.

“It’s always intense, but we really didn’t play our best,” Academy coach Elizabeth Green said. “We couldn’t block; we were struggling on defense, but we still went five games. I can’t be upset at all. I’m proud of them.”

The Chargers (16-7) were led by Alina Vanecek’s 21 kills, while Lauren Cruz had 23 digs and Risa Gutierrez added 42 assists.

Goddard’s championship match opponent will be top-seeded Piedra Vista (21-2), a 25-16, 25-19, 21-25, 25-17 winner over Centennial.

3A SEMIFINALS: Five-time defending champion Pojoaque Valley will aim for its sixth title after defeating Portales 25-19, 26-24, 25-20.

The Elkettes (19-4) will face Ruidoso (14-11) in today’s final at 11 a.m.

The Warriors dispatched Sandia Prep 25-22, 15-25, 25-16, 25-13 to set up a rematch of last season’s championship.

2A SEMIFINALS: Bosque will get the chance to defend its title after sweeping Ramah 25-20, 25-20, 25-9.

The Bobcats (19-4) battled through the first two games before finally overpowering the Mustangs (17-6).

Today’s 5 p.m. championship match will pit Bosque against Hatch Valley (19-5), a 25-14, 25-14, 25-22 winner over Eunice (16-5).

The Bobcats will enter the title match as favorites, though coach Bob Curry said they will need to improve a little to make it two titles in a row.

“I think we just need to execute our fundamentals better,” Curry said. “We need to make sure we’re passing, make sure we’re communicating, make sure that we just go out there swinging hard and playing our best game.”

1A SEMIFINALS: Top-seeded Fort Sumner and No. 3 Tatum swept aside their respective foes to set up a showdown in today’s 1 p.m. championship match.

The Vixens (17-6) dispatched Mountainair 25-13, 25-13, 25-20, while the Coyotes (17-5) rolled to an upset of No. 2 Hagerman 25-22, 25-14, 25-18.

CLASS B SEMIFINALS: Top-seeded Elida (21-1) bowled over Corona 25-8, 25-12, 25-7 to advance to its fourth consecutive state title match.

The Tigers will face Carrizozo today at 9 a.m. in a rematch of the last two Class B finals after the Grizzlies (22-1) dispatched San Jon 25-14, 25-21, 25-13.

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