“I thought Manogue served really well,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “I thought they out-served us. I thought we played hard but I don’t think we played very well. They’re a great team and to beat a great team you have to play hard and you have to play well.”
The visiting Miners (21-6, 10-2) dominated play in the first game, running out to a quick 11-4 edge. They pushed their lead to 14 points at 23-9. The gap was still 14 points, 24-10 when Spanish Springs began to show some signs of life. The Cougars (22-6, 10-2) scored four straight points capped by a Gabby Szachara kill, trimming the Miners’ lead to 10, 24-14.
But that proved way too little too late as Manogue’s Sarah Fincher pounded a kill to end the game. Fincher finished with a match-high 22 kills.
“Fincher played well. That’s what we need from her, but I’m proud of our overall effort to get her the ball,” Manogue coach Jason Sterrett said. “This was a tough match, we got a little luck but I thought we just put more balls away.”
Still, the late Game 1 run got the Cougars going as they did bounce back to win the second game. Manogue scored the first point of the game on a Fincher kill, but Spanish Springs scored the next six to grab the momentum.
After falling behind 8-3, early in Game 2, Manogue began to claw its way back. Another Fincher kill gave the Miners a 12-11 advantage. Game 2 was deadlocked at 15 apiece before Spanish Springs took control. A 7-1 Cougars run saw the hosts forge ahead 22-16. Bishop Manogue got back to within 2, 24-22, but Rachel Loadholt put down a kill for the Cougs to end the second game and knot the match at a game apiece.
Spanish Springs got off to a good start in Game 3 as well. A Manogue hitting error gave the Cougars a 14-9 lead. The Miners responded by grabbing a 19-18 lead minutes later following a Shannon Sullivan kill. Manogue missed a serve and Spanish Springs got back into a tie at 19-19, but the Miners scored six of the next seven points to ice the Game 3 victory. Fincher capped that set with another kill.
Game 4 was all Manogue. It was tight early as Spanish Springs trailed by just one, 8-7. It fell apart from there for the Cougars. The Miners reeled off a 7-1 spurt and cruised the rest of the way. Spanish Springs did not get closer than four points through the remainder of the fourth game.
“Our serve receive wasn’t good but you definitely have to give them lot of credit for that,” Sandomenico said. “We couldn’t run our offense. We didn’t get our middles going enough and we have to get them going for us to be effective.”
Manogue got 40 assists from its all-league setter Kelly Lujan. Sullivan chipped in 10 kills and Morgan Carlson added nine. Hannah Smith got up 17 digs and served up a trio of aces for the Miners.
“I hate the saying but we have kind of played not to lose recently. Tonight we didn’t. Tonight, we played loose. We played good volleyball. Hopefully, this is the start of an upswing for us,” Sterrett said.
Melly Munley and Loadholt finished with 12 and eight kills respectively to pace the Spanish Springs offense. Kylie Baer and Brandi Brucato lifted 12 and 11 digs respectively. Lyndsey Anderson gave away 24 assists for the SSHS spikers.
“We’re 22-6 and 20 of those wins have been sweeps,” Sandomenico said. “That’s fun and good, but we need matches like this where we have to claw and fight. That’s what we need to get better. We’ll learn from this and get better. We’re still in first place and control our destiny to win league. That’s our goal.”
Spanish Springs is in action again Tuesday when it hosts Carson at 6 p.m.