Damonte Ranch is taller than Spanish Springs. Damonte Ranch is more experienced than Spanish Springs. And Damonte Ranch’s season will last longer than Spanish Springs’.
The Mustangs trailed two games to one the road in Tuesday night’s DI North quarterfinal match at Spanish Springs but outlasted the Cougs 22-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11 to advance to the regional semifinals and end their host’s season.
“Their height gave us a lot of issues,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “They’re as talented as any team in the North. Their height gave us a lot of problems so we adjusted, did the best we could, but you have to give them credit for playing great volleyball.”
As a team, Damonte Ranch finished with 15 blocks—eight from senior Morgan Waller who also turned in a match-high 17 kills—but tipped or deflected countless Cougar attacks throughout the night. Fellow seniors Megan Carlson and Jasmin Hubbard each added 13 kills in the winning cause.
After scoring the final six points of the third set to grab a 2-1 lead with a 25-23 victory, the Cougars were nine points from keeping their season alive with a victory in the fourth. But leading 16-13, they watched the Mustangs close on a 12-3 run to force a deciding fifth set. Nine of Damonte’s 12 points in the run came via Spanish Springs unforced errors.
The momentum carried over to the first-to-15 fifth set as the Mustangs jumped to a 5-2 lead and led by no fewer than three the rest of the way.
“It (fast start) is huge,” Damonte Ranch coach Danielle Wallace said. “Typically in the volleyball world we say the first team to eight wins and it usually does work out that way. We just wanted to stay focused, minimize our errors and put the pressure on them with serves.”
Spanish Springs trailed 12-4 in the first set of the night but evened the match with a 10-2 run and eventually pulled out a 25-22 win. The second set was back and forth as Damonte owned a slim 16-15 advantage but the guests evened the match at one set apiece with a 9-0 closing run.
The Cougars again trailed large, 16-11, in the third set, before battling back.
“The two games we won, we were down bad and it wasn’t looking good,” Sandomenico said. “The girls just fought hard and came back. I was really proud of that.”
Ireland Bennett, Halie Smith and Emily Moore each had 10 kills in the loss.
Spanish Springs, which finished one game out of the league title, ended the season 22-11. The Cougars, who had just one senior, Sami Szachara, were 12-9, 2-3 after getting swept by Damonte Ranch earlier in the season but rattled off nine-straight league victories to put themselves in league-title contention.
Behind Szachara, the Cougs’ roster was made up of nine juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
“I feel like we showed up a year early. This wasn’t supposed to be our year,” Sandomenico said. “We’re a year ahead of schedule and we feel like we’ve got a lot coming back next year. We’re looking forward to a great year next year already.”
Damonte Ranch (19-10) on the other hand, which has eight seniors on its roster, will square off with Bishop Manogue, at Bishop Manogue, on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the regional semifinals.
The Mustangs, which finished third in the Sierra League, fell to the league champion Miners 3-1 and 3-0 in the regular season.
Sierra League champs too much for Raiders
Reed was no match for Bishop Manogue on Tuesday night in a DI North quarterfinal.
The Sierra League champs breezed past the Raiders 25-14, 25-10, 25-16 at home to improve to 32-6 and earn a spot in the DI North semifinals on Thursday against Damonte Ranch.
Reed, which entered the postseason as the High Desert League No. 4 seed, ended the season 5-21 in coach James Crane’s first season at the helm.
Douglas upsets McQueen on the road
By Kiley Diesner, reporting intern
The Tigers finished the regular season fourth in the Sierra League and had to open the playoffs on the road at High Desert League champion, McQueen, on Tuesday night. No problem.
McQueen won the first set 25-22, but Douglas came back to win the next three 25-21, 25-21, and 25-16 and punch a spot in the final four.
Isabelle Peterson and Aubrey Caires led Douglas in kills with 11 each and Talyn Jackson had 30 assists and 12 digs to go along with six blocks.
“We took care of the little things,” Douglas coach Suzi Townsell said. “We’ve been working really hard on covering, playing defense first, and not missing serves, it was definitely the little things (that helped us win).”
Douglas improved to 15-11 overall and will play Carson at Bishop Manogue on Thursday for a spot in the DI North title game. First serve is at 5 p.m.
“We know Carson really, really well,” Townsell said. “They have a fast offense so our defense just has to be on and our offense has to be on. We’re ready for them.”
The Lancers finished the year 17-11.
Carson handles Reno
The Sierra League runner-up Senators had no problem with High Desert League No. 3 seed Huskies at home in Tuesday’s DI North quarterfinal.
Carson swept Reno in straight sets, 25-14, 25-19, 25-17 to earn a spot in the regional semifinals against Douglas.
The Senators improved to 21-10 while the Huskies finished the season 13-13.