Facing off against the Sierra League’s fourth-seeded Carson Senators, the Purple and Silver used an impressive defense to sweep its way to the semifinal round: 25-10, 25-15, 25-18.
“We were really focused on taking away their outsides and their middles so there were a couple of times where they got some hits and we just weren’t ready,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “Other than that I was happy. They had some mishits and junk balls that fell on us, but overall I thought we played really well.”
From the start of the contest, it was apparent the Senators were outmatched.
In the first set, Spanish Springs (34-6) pounced on the visitors, grabbing an 11-2 lead out of the gates. A timeout temporarily slowed the Cougs down as Carson mounted a minor surge to cut its deficit to 15-9, but it was all SSHS after that.
Sparked by an ace from Brandi Brucato, along with a monster spike by Melly Munley and a drop shot by Lyndsey Anderson, the Cougars closed out Game 1 with a 10-1 run for the 25-10 victory.
Game 2 was slightly more competitive than the first as Carson managed to grab an early 4-3 lead to start the set. Unfortunately for the squad from the state capitol, the one-point advantage would be the only time the Senators were in the driver’s seat all night.
Spanish Springs’ Rachel Loadholt swung momentum back in favor of the home team with a spike that generated a short 6-1 SSHS spurt that brought the score to 9-5 with the Cougars on top. Carson briefly fought back, rallying to within two points with the scoreboard reading 11-9, but the Cougars had different ideas.
A pair of Brucato aces as well as rockets from Munley, aided Spanish Springs to five unanswered points to leave the score at 16-9. Following two quick marks by the Senators, the Cougars finished off the second set as they outscored their opponent 9-4 to take Game 2 and put Carson on the brink of elimination.
Struggling to keep their season alive, the Senators put up a fight in Game 3. Up against the Cougars though, Carson’s last-ditch efforts did not matter.
After Spanish Springs worked its way to a 7-6 edge that started the third set, SSHS strung together eight straight points that essentially put the final nail in the Senators’ coffin. Carson attempted to battle back, closing the gap from 15-6 down to 22-17, but the Cougars proved too much as a shot from Loadholt weaved its way to the ground for the final point of the match.
“I just feel like we can run all of our hitters right now,” Sandomenico said. “From pin to pin, I feel like we can run everybody and put balls away. Just everyone is capable: outsides, middle, right sides, back row. We have a lot of good options right now on offense which is a good feeling.”
The victory advances Spanish Springs to the semifinals and one win away from a trip to the regional championship game as well as punching its ticket to state. The Cougars will face Galena, which upset Reno in five sets. Spanish Springs swept the only match between the two this season. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We just feel like we can beat anybody in a five-game match right now,” Sandomenico said of his team’s current roll. “Sometimes we need some time to get going and over five games I just feel like we have too many good options and if we just serve and play well, then we’ll come out on top. We’re just playing our best volleyball right now and we just have to keep that up.”