The Cougars came out much more composed in Game’s 1 and 2 than North Valleys and relied on very good serving to boost them to lopsided wins.
In Game 1 with an 8-6 lead, Spanish Springs scored six straight, racking up five aces by Melly Munley and a 14-6 lead. The Cougars outscored the Panthers 11-1 in the rest of game, with Julianna Waller serving eight straight points for the Cougars, including four aces in the stint. Spanish Springs finished the big run with a 25-8 win over the host Panthers.
Game 2 saw Spanish Springs grab another early lead, this time 8-3. Waller racked up three more aces to help push her team to a 14-6 lead. Stacey Witt joined in with a few aces of her own, en route to a 25-14 edge.
“I thought we relied too much on our serves,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “Our serves just carried us. We pretty much served them off the court.”
The Cougars started off game 3 strong as well, taking a 7-1 lead. However, the Cougars lost their composure as North Valleys started to score. The Panthers tied things at 18 on a tip that was just inside the line. Jacque Stone tipped in a ball to take the first lead for North Valleys, 21-20. The Panthers then took a 24-21 lead but the Cougars got the go ahead on three consecutive aces from Witt for a 25-24 edge. Unfortunately for SSHS fans, a long serve gave the ball and the tie right back to the Panthers.
The good serving wasn’t necessarily 100 percent beneficial for the Cougars.
“It kind of made us lose our focus a little bit,” Sandomenico said. “When one girl is serving, five girls kind of start watching and we just had a ton of aces. In Game 3, we didn’t get all the aces and we couldn’t get in a rhythm. We just kind of lost our focus.”
Spanish Springs (9-13, 2-3 High Desert League) had to battle from behind a 27-26 deficit but a kill from Emily Meister tied things up again. A bad Spanish Springs serve combined with a North Valleys block gave the host school the 29-27 final in the fourth game.
“We’ve had a long curse,” North Valleys coach Chrysti Crittenden said. “We haven’t won a game in over a year, so just taking one game was a big difference.”
With some momentum, North Valleys took a 5-1 lead over the Cougars in Game 4. Spanish Springs fought its way back to a 15-9 edge and pushed it to 21-11 with two key kills and a block from Meister. Spanish Springs went on a quick 4-0 run to close things out in the 25-14 Game 4 win.
“We’re kind of at that point in the season where we could become a good team if we really learn to practice better,” Sandomenico said. “We’re just on that point. We’ve gotten some experience this year and our girls have played enough. We’re just right there. It’s just going to matter how hard we practice and our focus in practice.
Spanish Springs totaled 33 aces in its match against North Valleys. Callie Aberle had seven to go with six digs and three kills. Waller also had seven aces, five digs, one block and three kills. Witt led the way with eight aces, one dig, 20 assists and one kill. Meister put in four aces, two blocks and 12 kills. Munley had six aces, one dig and nine kills.
The Cougars will host McQueen on Tuesday in another HDL matchup.