The cross-town rivals battled back-and-forth throughout the match, but in the end the Cougars ended up on top, walking away with a 3-1 victory in sets of 25-20, 23-25, 25-15, 25-19.
After the sides traded wins in the first two sets of the match the Cougs pounced on their opponents to start the third set.
“I think we just stuck with what we do,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “We didn’t freak out or do anything different. We believe in what we do and the girls stayed together and they stuck with it. Reed plays hard, so they’re not going to give you a lot of easy points. So you definitely have to earn it.”
Rallying behind a pair of kills from Lyndsey Anderson and a strong spike by Gabby Szachara, the Purple and Silver jumped out to an 8-0 lead in Game 3. The Cougars’ run did little to detour the efforts of Reed.
Answering right back, Reed’s Moriah Maluotoga sent a bullet into the cross court to spark six straight points for the Raiders, who got right back in the contest. Just like the hosts though, SSHS had its own rebuttal as a quick 5-1 spurt pushed the Cougars’ edge to 13-7.
After the Raiders rallied to cut the deficit in half at 15-12, Spanish Springs put Game 3 away for all intents and purposes with a flurry of kills from Melly Munley and Szachara en route to a 9-1 run that left the scoreboard reading 24-13. Reed marked two points before the inevitable happened as Anderson sent a ball to the corner of the net where Munley rose high to put down the kill.
“We let them go on some runs and we weren’t able to stop it,” Reed coach Kristen Flagtvedt said. “Spanish Springs has always been a great serving team and our serve receive struggled. I think that’s what let them kind of take that third game away from us.
“I think the momentum shift was really tough because I think we were excited that we won Game 2. But we came back and we just were flat. Spanish Springs is not a team that just because you beat them, they’re going to stop playing. It’s going to make them come out a lot harder. We just didn’t respond the way that we should have.”
Much like the third set, Spanish Springs hurried out to a lead in Game 4.
An ace by Brandi Brucato started the set, followed by a surprise tip from Anderson, led to a 5-0 Cougar edge.
Refusing to go down without a fight, the Blue and Gold clawed its way back. Katelyn Singer dropped a soft kill to end the Spanish Springs run, quickly swinging the momentum back to the Raiders. Taylor Stefan followed with an ace, before Singer and Amber Harris combined on a block, en route to leaving the score at 6-5 for SSHS. After a pair of Cougar points, Reed continued its comeback with a 5-1 surge with two blocks and a rocket of a kill from Madi Funk to seize a 10-9 lead. Unfortunately for the Raider Nation supporters, that lead was short-lived.
After a serve fell short into the net, giving Spanish Springs the sideout, the visitors strung together a 9-2 dash that included Anderson going up to set an assist before taking advantage of an opening in the Raiders’ defense with a no-look, behind-the-head shot to the open floor. The spurt left the Cougars ahead 18-12.
Reed put a scare into Spanish Springs and made it seem that the match was destined for a fifth and final set, but it proved too little too late.
Led by two blocks and a kill by Funk, the Raiders made the game a one-point match at 20-19. Five unanswered points for Spanish Springs ended any thoughts of forcing Game 5 though as a shot into the net handed the Cougars the match victory, which left Sandomenico more than pleased.
“It’s a huge win,” Sandomenico said. “I appreciate the fans from both schools. You just never see stuff like this for female athletics, so it’s so nice for the kids to give up their time and create an environment that you don’t really see. It’s been two years in a row now where the environment has just been awesome.”
Anderson handed out 23 assists on the night, to go along with nine kills and six digs, leading the Cougar effort. Szachara, Munley and Rachel Loadholt led SSHS in kills with 12, 12 and 11, respectively. Brucato had 17 digs and five aces, while Hannah Meadows chipped in with 14 assists.
For the Raiders, Stefan handed out 22 assists while recording six digs and four aces. In the category of kills, Funk led the way with eight while also accounting for five blocks. Maluotoga and Emilie Braun both had seven kills on the evening. Taylor Whitehead tallied 15 digs, while Kelsey Donohoe had 14.
Spanish Springs will visit North Valleys on Thursday while Reed will travel to Reno High. Both matches are set to start at 6 p.m.