The Spanish Springs volleyball team’s roster is almost identical to last year’s squad, losing just two seniors. And yet, it looks a lot different.
A young but experienced Spanish Springs squad opened league play at home Tuesday night with a dominant 25-12, 25-7, 25-14 sweep of North Valleys.
After winning just eight games a season ago, the Cougs already improved to 7-1, 1-0 in the High Desert League.
“It’s a whole different mentality,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico. “These girls realize this is their opportunity to step up and have a chance to be a great team. They’re taking it a lot more seriously, they’re more focused.”
It wasn’t all a thing of beauty however. In the first set, the Cougs committed unforced errors on the first five points of the night to fall in a 5-0 hole. Nine of North Valleys first 10 points of the night came via Cougar mistakes.
“A little bit rocky, especially the first five points, the first game of the season,” Spanish Springs junior outside hitter Ireland Bennett. “We fixed it though and got it done so that’s all that matters.”
Bennett tied Mackenzie O’Connell for a team-high four aces and dished out four kills. O’Connell also passed out 23 assists.
Sandomenico called a timeout after falling into the early 5-0 deficit and told his girls to start “playing smart,” he said. So they did.
North Valleys clung to a 10-9 lead before the hosts went on an 11-0 run to all but decide the first set.
Another big run, an 8-0 spurt, also decided the second set, expanding a 12-6 Spanish Springs advantage to 20-6. The Cougs ended the night with an 11-point win in set No. 3.
“I thought we should’ve started better,” Sandomenico said. “We played seven matches this weekend (in Yerington). I know some of it was nerves but I mean, we gave them their first 10 points of the game.
“Ireland (Bennett) really put on some great serving runs and that turned the title of the game.”
Emily Moore led everyone with a game-high seven kills, although mistakes by the young North Valleys team accounted for a lot a large portion of the Cougars’ offense.
“I’m happy with the way we started,” North Valleys coach Branson Barr said. “It doesn’t take much to rattle our confidence at this point because we’re inexperienced. But we’ll bounce back from that. I think there’s a lot to work on.”
The Cougars travel to Sacramento on Saturday for a tournament before returning to league play at home next Tuesday against Wooster.