Since the time they reached Spanish Springs High School, Rachel Loadholt and Melly Munley have dreamt about helping the Cougars’ squad reach a state tournament. Although it took them four years, the seniors have finally accomplished their goal. Now they want more.
After compiling an overall record of 35-7 and a league mark of 15-1, the Cougs are now two victories away from raising the first volleyball title in school history. With the opportunity to stitch ‘2012’ on the volleyball banner that hangs in the gym rafters, Loadholt said winning would mean the world to her. Munley agreed.
“That’s always been our goal since freshmen year: to make it to state one of the years,” Munley said. “Last year we came close but fell a little short. Now we made it and to win, it’d mean everything.”
Realizing that this weekend, win or lose, will be the last time they don their brooding black SSHS uniforms, the best friends know they have had a good run on the volleyball court together. Perhaps no one understands this better than Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico, who has watched the girls grow as volleyball players since they started in the sport in 7th grade.
“It’s just gone by so fast and it’s been such a great experience. It’s bittersweet,” Sandomenico said. “We’re glad we’ve extended our season. We’ll have our final practice of the season Thursday and it’s going to be weird. There are a lot of good memories. I’m glad to see them go out with a chance to do something like this and hopefully enjoy it.”
Sandomenico admitted he has been spoiled to have such talented players like Loadholt and Munley, who terrorize opposing teams as they rise above the net to put away booming kills. Their powerful spikes are just the beginning of the problems that the two present though.
“They’re not just great hitters, they’re great volleyball players. They pass, they play defense and they can hit the ball from anywhere,” Sandomenico said. “They can do it all if they get out of the system. Between the two of them, we always have a person that can set the ball or hit the ball when our setter can’t get to a ball. Even when we’re out of system, they’re still really good.
“With Melly, she’s super competitive. She hates to lose. She is super competitive and gives you everything she’s got. With Rachel, she just makes things look easy. If we made her a setter, she would have been an amazing setter. If we would have made her a libero, she would have been an awesome libero. I think she could have even been a middle. She’s just a natural. She makes things work easy. They’re both just amazing athletes and just all-around volleyball players. It’s just nice to have.”
While in matches Loadholt and Munley present plenty of trouble for their opponents. At times, they also give their coach a headache because they said they talk too much. The talking is just a small part of the territory that comes with playing with your best friend though.
“Our team is like a family. We do everything together,” Loadholt said. “We are really close and we always have a ton of fun. We know that if we have any problems outside of volleyball, we can always call each other no matter who it is or what the issue is.
“Having Melly there all the time just makes things so much better because you feel comfortable all the time. No matter what, you feel like you can do it. It’s been really awesome. She plays the same position as me so we always know that we have each other. If I am ever messing up or anything, I know that I can always go to her and she’ll tell me it’s okay and what to do. She always helps me pick it up.”
Munley had similar sentiments about playing alongside Loadholt.
“It’s been really great. Because we play the same position, we can always go out and pick each other up,” she said. “We always know what to do and what to say to the other one. When our team needs someone to pick us up, she is always there to pick it up. It’s just someone you know you can rely on to be there, during the game and after.”
As they have so many times before, Loadholt and Munley will step on to the court side-by-side Friday night, knowing that regardless of the outcome, they will always be able to depend on the other.