Spanish Springs appeared much more focused against the Panthers as it cruised past the visitors en route to a sweep of the match, 25-14, 25-11 and 25-17.
From the beginning of Game 1, the Purple and Silver set the tone. Behind a pair of aces from Brandi Brucato, and two kills and a block from Gabby Szachara, Spanish Springs left the Panthers staggered and staring at a 9-1 deficit to start the match.
A 5-1, a North Valleys’ burst made things a little closer, but the Cougs again pounced with an 11-4 run that left Spanish Springs with a double-digit 20-10 advantage and on the brink of a victory in Game 1.
The Panthers called a timeout that temporarily eased the attack, but after North Valleys made the score 21-13, SSHS tallied four of the final five points of the set, capped off by a Szachara spike that ended Game 1 at 25-14.
Spanish Springs worked itself out to a 7-5 edge to kick off Game 2 before the Cougars again catapulted themselves well ahead with a swarm of unanswered points.
A kill from Rachel Loadholt sparked seven straight points that fell to the court in favor of SSHS, resulting in a 14-5 lead for the hosts. After the teams exchanged the next three points, the Cougars again strung together a run, this time netting six straight to go up 21-7. From there, Spanish Springs coasted to a 25-11 Game 2 win clinched on a kill from Myrissa Prince.
Not wanting to go home without winning a set, North Valleys stood its ground in Game 3.
The Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Spanish Springs countered with five points of its own to grab a 5-3 edge. The sides continued back and forth to a 9-9 tie before NVHS marked four quick points to seize a 13-9 advantage. It would prove to be North Valleys’ last lead of the match as the Cougars ripped off a 7-1 run that put them ahead 16-14. The two-point discrepancy remained with the score 19-17 until Spanish Springs recorded the last six points with the finishing touch coming on a tip-shot from Hannah Meadows for the 25-17 win.
While Sandomenico was pleased with the ‘W,’ he said he is still looking for more from his squad.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten any better or any worse,” Sandomenico said. “We’re just kind of in that mode where we just kind of maintain. I just feel like right now we’re maintaining a certain level. I can deal with the physical mistakes, but there are just a couple of little mental things. Little things that we’re not doing like not being in the right spot. It’s little things like that I hope we can figure out and I think we will.”
Lyndsey Anderson led the Cougars with 20 assists and a pair of kills while Meadows chipped in by dishing out 12 assists. Melly Munley had three aces and a match-high 10 kills, just in front of nine from Loadholt and seven from Szachara. Brucato finished the match with six aces and seven digs.
Now Spanish Springs (16-3, 3-0) will turn its attention to its match on Thursday at 6 p.m. when it visits rival Reno in a High Desert League showdown. It is a match up that Sandomenico hopes will bring out the best in his team.
“I’m hoping we can kick it up a notch, especially playing Reno on Thursday," he said. "This team tends to rise to the occasion depending on the opponent. So we’re hoping Thursday we’ll see the best effort that we’ve seen in a while.”