The excitement is still high though and Spanish Springs and Sparks are both looking to join Reed as playoff teams.
Here’s a brief look at all three Sparks-area high school squads.
In her third year as head coach, Kristen Flagtvedt is the longest tenured coach at the three Sparks schools. She is also the only coach to lead her team to the postseason.
Last year, Reed qualified for the regional tournament after taking third place in the High Desert League. The Raiders’ playoff appearance was short-lived though, losing to Damonte Ranch in the first round in four games.
Flagtvedt hopes her team can make it back to the playoffs and finally break through with a win.
“If they reach their potential, I think we could definitely be looking at one of the top spots on our side,” Flagtvedt said. “That will be up to them if they reach their potential or not. We would definitely like to make it past that first game.”
But Reed will have to do it with a very young team. The Blue and Gold return five players: Kendra Davis, Elizabeth Stacy, Katrina Spencer, Kyndal Comphel and Ciarra Ioli. However, only three saw a significant amount of playing time.
“Although we’re a young team, we’re a pretty scrappy team,” Flagtvedt said. “They’ve been working pretty hard. They have a chance to be a pretty decent team. It’s just a matter if they’re mentally tough.”
For the first time in three years, Reed won’t have Rachael Vaughn at setter either. Comphel, who didn’t set much last year, will take over for the graduated all-league setter. Junior Rachel LeSage will also see some time at setter.
The Raiders are in Las Vegas for a preseason tournament this weekend and will come back to town to play defending state champion Bishop Manogue Thursday.
Spanish Springs Cougars
If Spanish Springs is going to make the playoffs for the first time in school history, it will have to do it with almost an entirely new team.
Senior Bryli Friberg is the lone returner and will move to libero after playing on the outside last year.
Growing pains are expected with such a young team and it was clear the Cougars have lots of work to do when they took part in a six-team scrimmage at Galena Wednesday night.
“It was an eye-opener for us. The game is a lot faster than these girls are used to,” SSHS coach Frank Sandomenico said.
One newcomer is expected to play a big role for Spanish Springs.
Junior Stacey Witt was the JV setter last year and had a good club volleyball season. Sandomenico said she really knows the game and will be the leader of the team.
One big positive for the Cougs is all the work they put in during the summer with a volleyball class players attended.
“I think it will help a lot,” Sandomenico said. “We really got to learn a lot about each other. Since we are so young, that was the kind of experience we need. Our girls just need to play more volleyball and get as much exposure to the game as we can.”
Spanish Springs is doing just that. The Cougars also scrimmaged North Valleys earlier this week and will head to the Lowry tournament this weekend in order to try to catch up to everyone else.
Even with a team that has three sophomores and two freshmen, Sandomenico has made reaching the playoffs a goal, something the Purple and Teal just missed out on last year.
“We’re taking the approach of that’s our goal, but the only way to reach that goal is to get better,” the Cougars’ second-year coach said. “It’s really hard to convince the girls that it’s not about winning a tournament or getting a good record. It’s about playing aggressively and trying not to make mistakes. I don’t know if they’ve committed to that or not.”
Sparks underwent a long, arduous season last fall under first-year coach Tarina Elliott, who said she learned to work with what she’s given instead of trying to do the same things are teams are doing.
While the Railroaders went winless in their 3A North campaign, that hasn’t stymied the enthusiasm surrounding the upcoming season.
“Making regionals is our number one goal,” Elliott said. “We’re just going to work our hardest this year and hopefully make it to regionals.”
Sparks has six seniors returning who will be the core of an experienced squad. Elliott also believes her team will be strong in passing.
The Railroaders open the season at Lassen Thursday.