The calendar reads September 13. But it felt a little like an early November playoff contest.
In a battle of 4A North regional title contenders, Spanish Springs hosted Douglas on Tuesday night in front of a vociferous, apparently postseason-ready Cougars’ student section.
Spanish Spring coach Frank Sandomenico can only hope his team performs in November as well as it did on Tuesday night. The Cougars swept the Tigers in straight sets 25-14, 25-19, 25-21, improving to 17-3, 4-0 in the 4A North.
“Defensively, that’s as good as we can play,” Sandomenico said. “And I just don’t know how you can ask for a better crowd. I mean, holy crap. That’s as good as it gets for high school female athletics right there.”
Ranked the No. 1 team in the state on maxpreps.com entering the contest, the Tigers fell to 12-2, 2-1. Both losses are to the Cougars, who also beat them in the High Sierra Invitational.
Jordyn Boswell and Emily Moore (four blocks) shared the team lead with 11 kills. It started defensively for the Cougs, however. Kennedey Stroshine had 10 digs and Olivia Galetti had nine.
Mackenzie O’Connell turned in another all-around healthy performance, finishing with 25 assists, six digs, two aces and a kill.
The Cougars found themselves in a familiar position after two sets, up two sets to none. Sandomenico’s squad also led 2-0 at Carson on Thursday, before having to comeback in the fifth set to preserve the win.
Spanish Springs’ coach said that win influenced Tuesday’s performance.
“We made a commitment to get better defensively because we didn’t play very well defensively at Carson,” he said. “So I feel like that was the turnaround.”
That, and Toby Keith. Sandomenico played Keith’s ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’ before the game and he’s “never seen (the) girls so pumped before.”
Strong finishes were a theme throughout the night for the home team. Spanish Springs closed the first set courtesy of a 4-0 run. With the second set tied at 18 apiece, the Cougars ended on a 7-1 run. And with a narrow 18-17 advantage in the third, the Cougars finished off the convincing win by scoring seven of the last 11 points.
The Cougars will attempt to avoid a letdown after the sweep of the Tigers on Thursday at home against Galena.
“I can see a letdown happening Thursday. It’s inevitable,” Sandomenico said. “We just have to make sure the letdown isn’t too great. You get this pumped and you play this well, it’s tough to keep that intensity and that focus every single night.”
Senators sweep aside Raiders
Reed was no match for Carson at home on Tuesday night.
The Raiders were swept 12-25, 18-25, 9-25 and dropped to 2-8, 0-3 in the 4A North.
Reed will play host to Douglas on Thursday.