It sounded a little odd to Christina Norton as she spoke the words.
“Holy crap,” the Cibola High School volleyball coach said, perking up. “We’re 13-1.”
Her Cougars, the Albuquerque metro champions, won their District 1-5A opener on Tuesday night, as their array of offensive weapons led to a three-game sweep of visiting Cleveland.
The scores were 25-19, 25-22, 25-17.
Cibola’s hitting, tipping and serving were assets throughout as the fourth-ranked Cougars (by MaxPreps.com) handled the fifth-ranked Storm (12-4).
“All of us, we’re so versatile,” said senior opposite/setter Abigail Carlsen, who had a team-high 13 kills in the victory. “A lot of us can play many different positions. We can always switch up our hitters, and we know our offense and our defense will be successful with any rotation, any hitter.”
Carlsen was the best player on the floor. She was effective at net with both kills and tips, and she tossed in one ace in each of the three sets.
Sophomore Janessa Leyba added nine kills, senior opposite Logan Smith had seven kills and freshman hitter Jasmine Martinez delivered half a dozen kills. And sophomore hitter Jennifer Lopez provided one of the great highlight swings of the match, as she came flying in from the back row for a huge kill in the third set.
Diverse and skilled was how Norton described her roster.
Cibola’s hitting angles, and their regular diet of tipping to get over Cleveland’s blocks, had the Storm struggling to get into its offense.
“It’s hard to read what we do on our side of the court for offense,” sophomore libero Makayla Martinez said. “It’s hard to defend our team, because everyone can do anything.”
A short burst of solid serves by Carlsen in the middle of the first set, including her first ace, gave Cibola some slight separation. Smith closed out the set with two kills and a tip.
The serving of Lopez, and two kills and a block at net from 6-foot sophomore Ella Parker, were pivotal in the middle set during an 8-0 run that allowed the Cougars to rally from a 15-12 deficit.
Lopez fired two aces in this run, including a bullet for an 18-15 edge.
The second set ended with Kayla Ison’s well-placed tip winner.
Cibola in the final set scored eight of the first 10 points, and a 6-0 run later in the set — highlighted by two kills from Jasmine Martinez and a pair of aces from Sofia Jurado — ended any remaining suspense. Fittingly, a tip by Carlsen ended the match.
The other 1-5A opener Tuesday night had Rio Rancho beating Atrisco Heritage in three sets.