Saturday’s North Region volleyball title match between Spanish Springs and Bishop Manogue was anything but symbolic of the season.
The Miners never trailed and cruised to the North title, earning a state berth with a 25-19, 25-16, 25-14 win over the Cougars at Reno High School.
“They were better than us. We could have played better but they just (have) too many weapons,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said.
The Miners’ most prolific weapons, hitters Kelsie Hill and Katelyn Oppio, dominated the title match. Hill finished with 18 kills in the sweep and Oppio added 10.
“It feels great. It’s a good feeling,” Bishop Manogue coach Jason Sterrett said of winning the Region title. “But we got away with some stuff tonight. We played a great Spanish Springs team that we knew we had to come in and play with a different intensity and fortunately for us we came away with a win.”
The Miners did not drop a set in any of their three regional tournament matches, sweeping Reed, McQueen and Spanish Springs.
The Regional champs’ lone loss of the season came a month ago at Spanish Springs. Sterrett said the loss to the Cougars provided additional motivation Saturday.
“Absolutely. There is no question about it,” Sterrett said. “We are 18-1 now and that one loss came to them (Spanish Springs). So absolutely that made a big difference for us.”
After trailing 19-12 in the first game, the Cougs worked their way back into the game, trailing 21-18, on one of Madison McCusker’s three blocks. A pair of Cougar errors, sandwiched around a Miners serving error, made the score 23-19 before Bishop Manogue scored the final two points of the first game.
Manogue scored the first five points of the second game and extended the lead to as much as 10 before taking a two-games-to-none lead with the 25-16 win.
Before the third game, Sandomenico took the Cougars off the court to deliver what he hoped would be a season-salvaging speech.
“We just wanted to get off to a better start, and we did (in Game 3),” Sandomenico said. “We dug ourselves holes in Games 1 and 2. We wanted to start fast, and we did.”
Spanish Springs never grabbed the lead but trailed narrowly 11-10, before the Miners put the game, and the match, away with a 9-1 run.
“We fell apart in the middle (of the game),” Sandomenico said.
Bishop Manogue's back row proved nearly impenetrable, suffocating the Cougars’ offense. Kate Castro and Tayler Lodge both finished with four kills. Brandi Brucato put up 11 digs and served a pair of aces.
The loss put the finishing touches on a season that saw the Cougars win their third consecutive High Desert League crown after losing incredible talent last season and losing standout Myrissa Prince to a torn ACL in the summer. Spanish Springs also won its fourth consecutive Academic State title with a 3.76 team grade-point average.
“We have proven, in the state of Nevada, we are as good as any program on the court and then off the court we’re the best in the classroom,” Sandomenico said. “And we did that with multi-sport athletes. So we’ve proven you can be great in volleyball, be great in the classroom and still play multiple sports. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of.”