Suddenly, the High Desert League appears to be Spanish Springs’ to lose.
The Cougars took over first place in the HDL on Tuesday night with their fifth-straight league victory, a 25-17, 27-25, 25-20 home sweep of McQueen.
Spanish Springs (17-9, 7-3) entered the meeting a half-game behind McQueen (11-10, 6-3) but leapfrogged the Lancers with the sweep.
“It’s a huge win. I’m really happy with the performance,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “I thought our girls played hard and just 100 percent carried out our game plan so I was really happy with that.”
The win came five days after the Cougars picked up their first pivotal HDL win of the season, a road sweep of Reno.
Sandomenico, who has just one senior on his roster, said in spurts, his team looked the best he’s ever seen.
“It felt like at times that’s the best I’ve seen this team play,” he said. “There were times there, I was like ‘this is a good team. We’re good.’ We just looked athletic. We looked smart. We looked hungry. It was just a good mix.”
Although league volleyball matches are determined in best-of-five sets, the Cougars won the match in the second set. The Cougars trailed 21-19, four points from the match being knotted at one, but grabbed all the momentum with the 27-25 win.
Sami Szachara, the only senior on the Cougs’ roster, accounted for three of Spanish Springs’ final four points of the set with a block and two kills, the final of which led to set point. A McQueen error put the Cougs up two sets to none.
“We knew what we were up against,” McQueen coach Jeff Zimmerman said of dropping the second set. “Spanish Springs is a great team. We know we’re in a battle for a league championship.”
Szachara led the team with three blocks and chipped in eight kills. Emily Moore led the team with 12 kills, followed by nine from Ireland Bennett.
The third set was tied at 12 before the Cougs went on a 7-0 run. The Lancers crept within three, at 23-20, but a pair of kills from Delaney Spinks and Halie Smith sent everyone home.
“This was a huge win,” Moore said. “We’ve been focusing on this since almost last season. That’s a top team. So we’re really happy we came out with a win. We’ve been working hard.”
Junior setter Mackenzie O’Connell turned in another crisp performance with 31 assists to go along with three digs and a pair of aces.
The Cougs will try to win their sixth-straight contest at winless North Valleys on Thursday night.
Sandomenico said a step back from Tuesday’s showing is “inevitable” against the Panthers so his plan is to keep things simple: A short practice on Wednesday followed with a team dinner.
“They’re going to come out (on Thursday) and it’s just going to be different,” he said. “It’s inevitable.”
Reed, North Valleys postponed due to virus
The Raiders’ match at North Valleys on Tuesday night was postponed as a precaution because of an ongoing virus throughout the region.
A makeup date has not yet been determined.
Reed is scheduled to host Reno on Thursday.