RENO – One win. It’s how close Spanish Springs came from a state berth.
The deep, experienced Cougars entered the season as one of the most talented teams in the 4A North. That never changed over the course of the year. Unfortunately for the Purple and Black, they ran into a team just as talented in Thursday’s 4A North semifinal at Galena.
Spanish Springs took the first set off Douglas then dropped the next three as their promising season ended with a 25-17, 20-25, 14-25, 18-25 defeat.
“They were just better than us. They were better,” said Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico, who led the Cougars for the final time.
The Cougars put together comebacks in the second and fourth sets that came up short.
In the second set, they trailed 19-12 then scored eight of the next 10 points to sneak within 21-20. Douglas won the next four to even the match at a set apiece. In the fourth set, they trailed 13-3 before grinding out 11 of the next 13 points. The run left then down 15-14. The Tigers then scored eight of the next 10 to put it out of reach.
“Honestly, I’ve never been more proud of our team after a loss,” Sandomenico said. “Our girls just never gave up … I’m really happy with the way the girls fought, not only tonight. To win 32 games and a league championship is a great way to go out. We’re leaving here with a lot of pride tonight.”
Douglas’ final run that put the fourth set, and Spanish Springs’ season, away was aided by a few controversial calls that went against the Cougs.
“We had a championship atmosphere tonight, we just didn’t have championship officiating,” Sandomenico said. “But that’s not why we lost.”
Emily Moore was once again dominant in her final game donning a Spanish Springs uniform. After finishing with 20 kills in the quarterfinal win over Damonte Ranch, she put down 24 in the loss. Jordyn Boswell had 12, Ireland Bennett had five. Nobody else had more than one.
“We had to get more people involved,” Spanish Springs’ coach said. “They blocked the hell out of us tonight. Their blockers were just tough. You have to give them credit.”
Along with Thursday being Sandomenico and Moore’s final game at Spanish Springs, it also marked the end of the road for Mackenzie O’Connell, Bennett, Kennedy Stroshine, Olivia Galletti and Delaney Spinks.
O’Connell, who has put up monster numbers all year, finished with 38 assists, nine digs, four aces and a kill. Stroshine put up a team-high 19 digs to go along with three assists and an ace.
Sandomenico and the seniors had a private, lengthy conversation postgame.
“It’s just so easy because of the way we fought tonight,” he said. “You leave with a league championship and the effort, we never stopped fighting. That makes it way easier to accept.”
The Cougars ended the season with a 32-8 record.
Douglas (25-7) earned a state berth and secured a spot in Saturday’s 4A North title game against Reno, which upset Bishop Manogue in the other semifinal.