A slow start initially stalled the Cougars in Game 1 as McQueen jumped out to a 9-3 lead. The six-point edge would be the highlight of the night for the Lancers and their largest lead of the contest. From that point forward, the Purple and Silver took control of the match.
“We just tried to not freak out,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “The girls have too many highs and lows. So as coaches, we try not to let them get too high or low. We just had to work through it and stick with the game plan. They did a great job of executing the game plan. They stuck to it and it worked.”
Sparked by a surprise tip shot from Lyndsey Anderson that found its way to the court among the unsuspecting Lancers, Spanish Springs went on a 6-2 spurt to cut the deficit to 11-9. With the score still in favor of McQueen at 13-10, the Cougs would hold the home squad to five points over the remainder of the game as they overwhelmed the Lancers to take the first set, 25-18.
Behind a pair of powerful kills from Gabby Szachara, Spanish Springs pounced on the Lancers 7-3 to kick off the second set. After McQueen managed to bring the score to 11-9, the Cougars would flex their muscles with a 14-2 run to close out Game 2 for a 25-11 victory.
One defeat away from being swept, McQueen fought to extend the match to a fourth game. The two sides battled back and forth until the scoreboard read 10-9 in favor of the visitors. However, seven-straight Cougar points turned the tug of war into a decisive 17-9 advantage. McQueen put together a short-lived burst, tallying four unanswered to cut Spanish Springs’ lead to 17-13, but a kill from Briana Parrish silenced the Lancers for good as the Cougars strung together an 8-2 run to seal Game 3, 25-15, clinching the match.
The Cougars’ effort was led by 11 kills from Szachara and 10 from Melly Munley. Anderson handed out 18 assists, while Hannah Meadows added 10 of her own. Brandi Brucato had 17 digs on the night, in addition to 10 for Rachel Loadholt, who also had five kills. Along with her game-high in kills, Szachara also totaled five blocks on the night.
Although the win improved Spanish Springs to an impressive 19-4 record overall, as well as 6-1 in league, Sandomenico said the Cougars’ performance on the defensive side of the ball was the finest of the season.
“From the middle of the first game, I think that was the best defense we’ve played all year. I was real happy with the defense, our assignments and the efforts,” Sandomenico said. “At practice, our defense was terrible so maybe we got all the bad stuff out of the way. From the middle of Game 1 on into Games 2 and 3, that’s some of the best defense I’ve seen us play all year.”
Spanish Springs will next take the court at home against Damonte Ranch on Thursday with the match set to tip at 6 p.m.
“We’re at that point in the season where you kind of hit a lull a little bit,” Sandomenico said. “With the same drills everyday, it becomes repetitive. So we just need to find a way to get it fresh again and not go through the motions and stare at the clock all practice. I just think we need more focus in practice. We should be fine if we do that.”
While the Cougars were sweeping McQueen, the Reed High volleyball team was breaking out its own brooms at North Valleys as it took the Panthers in three sets: 25-20, 25-16, 25-17.
Moriah Maluotoga led the Raiders in kills with 13, while Emilie Braun and Katelyn Singer followed with seven and six kills, respectively. Taylor Stefan dealt out 31 assists on the night to contribute to the Reed victory. Taylor Whitehead had a team-high in digs with nine, while close behind her were KaPreace Young with eight and Maluotoga with six.
“I thought we did a good job of being aggressive and attacking the ball,” Reed coach Kristen Flagtvedt said. “I thought we served a lot tougher tonight. There are still times where we need to play more consistent. We gave them a run in the first game and we had to come back to be able to beat them. I like that they have that drive to be able to come back and win, but I would also like to stop the runs from the very beginning.”
Reed (16-7, 6-1) hosts regional power Bishop Manogue on Thursday at 6 p.m.
“We just want to make sure that we stay consistent,” Flagtvedt said. “We have to trust the player next to us and be able to play as a team and not just individuals.”