Rio Rancho High’s volleyball team could not escape the right arm of Reese Russell on Thursday night.
The Eldorado sophomore was the best and most dynamic player on the floor, knocking down 16 kills and six aces as the seventh-ranked Eagles (5-2) rallied to beat the visiting Rams (5-4) in four sets in a rematch of the recent metro tournament’s third-place match.
Eldorado won Thursday, 21-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-15. The Eagles swept the Rams at metros.
“I think we’re killing it,” said Russell. “I’m excited.”
Russell was influential in each of Eldorado’s three winning sets Thursday.
After an opening set that saw the Eagles have six service errors, Russell delivered three consecutive aces in set No. 2, part of a 6-0 run that left the Eagles in control.
An 8-0 run in the third set was largely spurred on by Russell, who had four kills in that run to turn a tentative 9-8 lead into a commanding 17-8 lead.
Eldorado also ended that third set by scoring the final seven points.
After Rio Rancho bolted to a 6-1 lead in the fourth set, it was Russell who helped steady the Eagles, with two kills and a block as Eldorado regained its footing and slowly overtook the Rams.
At 14-13 Eldorado, the Eagles scored five straight points on the strength of the serve of Haley King-Mead, who had two aces in that run that essentially put Rio Rancho away.
But it was Russell’s swinging that left the deepest impact, both at the net and from the service line. The Rams often just could not get away from her.
“She’s usually like that,” Eldorado coach Rob Pierce said of Russell. “I think she got more sets tonight than she usually does, but that’s all right, if she’s on fire like that, we need to keep feeding her the ball.”
Rio Rancho, ranked No. 5 in the latest 5A coaches’ poll, has been missing its starting setter, junior Ashleigh Meyer, who has been ill. Coach Toby Manzanares said she will probably be out at least another week.
But the Rams’ ups and downs were a little frustrating, as Rio Rancho surrendered seven Eldorado runs of at least five points.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Manzanares said. “We’re as good as anybody when we’re on all cylinders, but we’re as bad as anybody (when we’re not). We have had to deal with this. We’re consistent for a while, then all of a sudden, one error leads to seven.”
Eldorado’s losses this season are to La Cueva in the metro semifinals and to Hope Christian.