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Volleyball roundup: Cougars, Raiders both need five to win
by Nathan Shoup
Sep 25, 2013 | 1393 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs libero Brandi Brucato (in white) and hitter Tayler Lodge both try to settle under the volleyball for a dig during the Cougars' win over Manogue Tuesday night.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs libero Brandi Brucato (in white) and hitter Tayler Lodge both try to settle under the volleyball for a dig during the Cougars' win over Manogue Tuesday night.
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Tribune photo by John Byrne - Gabby Szachara tips the ball around two Manogue blockers in Tuesday's non-league win at Spanish Springs. Szachara finished with 14 kills and five blocks. Both were team highs.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Gabby Szachara tips the ball around two Manogue blockers in Tuesday's non-league win at Spanish Springs. Szachara finished with 14 kills and five blocks. Both were team highs.
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It didn't start pretty for coach Frank Sandomenico and his Spanish Springs volleyball team, but the Cougars pulled out a five-game non-league thriller, 20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 15-12 Tuesday night over Bishop Manogue on their home floor.

The win came on the heels of Spanish Springs dropping its first league game, Thursday, against Reno. The Cougars now sit at 14-5, 4-1 in the High Desert League.

"It's huge. I'm just proud of the girls," Sandomenico said. "We've been telling the girls, we have 12 seniors, and it's up to them. They have to decide if they're going to play hard and have pride. They showed that tonight."

The match did not start promising for the Cougars, who dropped the first game 25-20. And it wasn't even that close. The Miners led 24-16 before a handful of communication errors inflated Spanish Springs' score.

"I think we wait to decide if we are going to play sometimes. We kind of feel the game out and see what's happening," Sandomenico said. "It's bothersome that we get off to bad starts like that. It's something we need to address."

Manogue's Kelie Hill was a force for the Miners, racking up 21 kills. The senior, who is listed at 5-feet 8-inches but plays much bigger, went through a stretch at the end of the second game, killing five of seven points before dropping the set 23-25.

"She's unbelievable. She walks into the gym and you look at her and think 'we don't have to worry about her,' but she's a special player," Sandomenico said. "She's a terminator and she made us pay."

After dropping the crucial third game, the defending state champions played the way many would come to expect: composed. Sandomenico did not give his team a fancy speech to pump his girls up. He didn't need to.

"This could be a difference maker over the course of the year but it's just night by night. There's too many good teams out there to think that far ahead," Sandomenico said.

Leading 13-12 in the decisive fifth game, it was fitting Tayler Lodge put the Cougars up 14-12 with one of her 11 kills in her first game playing on the left side. She also finished with 10 digs.

"(She) played out of her mind tonight," Sandomenico said. "She was dynamite."

"I felt like I really had to step up and I feel like everyone really stepped up," Lodge said. "We practiced it yesterday in practice and I guess it worked out well."

Hannah Meadows followed Lodge's kill on the next point, splitting the back row to finish the game. Meadows finished with 31 assists, eight kills, five digs and three aces.

Libero Brandi Brucato chipped in 15 digs along with three aces and Gabby Szachara lead the team with 14 kills and five blocks.

The Cougars return to HDL action Thursday at Hug.

"We've got to be ready to play every night," Sandomenico said. "There just aren't going to be any easy nights and it's not going to get any easier."

•Not to out dramatized, the Reed volleyballers also squeezed out a five-game win Tuesday night.

The Raiders won the first two sets and lost the next two before beating Wooster in the fifth game to clinch a 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 21-25, 15-12 home HDL win and improve to 9-4, 3-2 in league.

"I thought the girls played very well in the first two sets of the match," Reed coach Kristen Flagtvedt said. "The third and fourth, I thought we fought but I just don't think we played as clean as we did in the first two.

"I think the girls came out strong in the fifth set and we were able to finish it."

Flagtvedt admitted that with two early league losses her team is facing some early pressure to win games but she did not call the game a must-win.

"Wooster definitely has some good blockers and a couple of really strong hitters. I thought they really did a good job of trying to swing around our block," Flagtvedt said.

Mo Maluotoga led the Raiders with 25 kills and 20 digs. Emilie Braun set a career-high for the second time in two weeks with 23 kills and she pitched in 19 digs. Kelsey Donohoe turned in 23 digs.

Flagtvedt gave special praise to team setter Annie Braun, who passed out 52 assists.

Reed has now won two straight and plays at McQueen Thursday.

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