After proving their excellence in the classroom by accumulating a 3.69 grade-point average over the last semester, the Cougars then went out and decided to showcase some excellence on the court.
“It just shows you what a great group of kids we’ve been blessed to coach,” SSHS volleyball coach Frank Sandomenico said. “It’s just unbelievable. It says a lot about their parents. They’re just true student-athletes.”
By surviving three match points in the fifth set against Gorman, Spanish Springs proved it had a short-term memory, in regards to a loss five days earlier against Bishop Manogue in the Division I Northern Region tourney by a score of 23-25, 25-10, 25-11, 25-19.
“We didn’t let it bother us too much. We got to state and knew there were four great teams there and whoever played the best would win,” Sandomenico said. “We took that Monday off (after regionals) and came back Tuesday, and it was like it never even happened. It was just one of those things where we believed it could happen and it did.”
The state semifinal was eerily similar to the contest with the Miners. Against Gorman, Spanish Springs won the first two sets, but could not do anything right in Games 3 and 4. Even halfway through the decisive fifth set, it didn’t look good for the Cougars.
The Gaels were a point away from the match win at 14-12, 14-13 and 15-14. However, Spanish Springs shocked Gorman with the final three points of the game to suddenly swing momentum with a knockout blow.
A victory over Gorman meant Spanish Springs would have to play the defending state champions on Saturday in the state final.
The Cougars lucked out a bit by how Green Valley’s state semifinal versus Manogue played out. Because Spanish Springs’ semifinal match began about an hour late and went five sets, Green Valley didn’t take the court until around 9:30 p.m.
The Gators appeared to be on course to make quick work of the Miners, but after dropping the first two games, Manogue tied up the match and forced a fifth set, making it a very long night for Green Valley.
However, any hopes that the Gators would be drained for the state championship match quickly vanished Saturday as they handled Spanish Springs 25-12 in Game 1 of the title bout. It looked like it would be a short night for the Cougars until they returned the favor with their own 25-12 win in the second set. Then it was game on.
Green Valley led past the midway points in both Games 3 and 4, forcing the Cougars to play catch-up. Still, the ending of the final set was spectacular.
You had blocks, kills and Cougars flying all over the court to dig hard shots by the Gators. Fans watched as Spanish Springs tallied seven of the last eight points of the fourth game to erase a 21-18 deficit and win 25-22.
“I thought Brandi (Brucato) played out of her mind at state,” Sandomenico said. “Melly (Munley) just took over the game, wanted the ball and put it away when we needed it. Brandi’s serving has been top notch the entire year, but some of the digs she made against those hitters for Green Valley, it was unbelievable. She got to some balls that I don’t think there are any liberos out there that could get to those.”
After leading the Cougars in league play with 47 aces and 146 digs, Brucato either tied for the team high or led the Cougars in aces and digs in the two state tournament games. She had 13 digs and two aces against Green Valley to follow up her four-ace and nine-dig performance against Gorman.
Munley set a school record for kills with 25 against Gorman, but had a more efficient game against Green Valley as she knocked down 20 kills to again lead the Purple and Silver. Suitably, she gave Spanish Springs the win over Gorman with a kill from the back row and served up the final point against Green Valley with an ace.