“I was really disappointed in Game 1. We didn’t execute our game plan,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “It was super frustrating. We had a game plan and we just simply did the exact opposite of what we planned to do… We put ourselves in an 0-1 hole and we’re not good enough to do that.”
Spanish Springs (21-7, 12-3 in the HDL) lost to McQueen 25-23, 17-25, 25-22, 25-14 and dropped into a first-place tie with the Lancers. Both have one regular-season game remaining.
If the two teams remain tied, Spanish Springs will earn the league's top seed via tiebreaker rules. McQueen plays Reno Thursday while Spanish Springs plays Reed.
On Tuesday, five McQueen hitters racked up at least six kills. Mckenzi Moon (10 kills), Kacy Fristen (10 kills), Savannah Schroeder (eight kills), Delayni Fine (eight kills) and Libby Bauer (six kills) all caused problems for the Cougars defense.
“They’re good,” Sandomenico said. “There’s not necessarily a dominant one but they don’t have any weaknesses… That makes it tough on you.”
After abandoning the serving game plan in the first game, Sandomenico felt his squad followed through in the second game as the Cougars cruised to a 25-17 win. Spanish Springs trailed 6-3 but rattled off the next four points and did not trail the rest of the way.
Five of the Cougar’s 13 aces came in the Game 2 win. Brandi Brucato led the team with five aces in the match followed by Hannah Meadows (four aces), Sadye Roulund (three aces) and M’Kinna Mullen (one ace).
Taylor Lodge tied the third game at 19-19 with one of her seven kills but the Lancers scored six of the final nine points to take the game. With momentum on its side, McQueen coasted to a 25-14 win in the clinching fourth game.
Gabby Szachara led the Cougars with 10 kills, finishing nearly every time she was set and Hannah Meadows filled each category in the stat sheet once again with 18 assists, eight digs, four aces, two kills and a block.
The Cougars close out the regular season Thursday at Reed with their league-title aspirations still intact.
“We have to bounce back,” said Sandomenico.
Locked into HDL’s fourth seed, Reed topped North Valleys, Tuesday, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 25-11 to improve to 14-10, 8-7 in league meetings.
“I don’t think we necessarily executed in the first two sets like we did in the last two,” Reed coach Kris Flagtvedt said. “We’re just trying to eliminate mistakes and get ready for regionals.”
The Raiders were without starting libero Kelsey Donohoe who was ineligible after playing in the alumni game visiting the University of Great Falls, in Montana, this weekend. Donohoe will be eligible Thursday when Reed hosts Spanish Springs.
Illiana Orsi took over libero duties in the first two games before giving way to Mo Maluotoga who finished with a team-high, 19 digs.
With Maluotoga playing the defensive position, Maddy Johnson came off the bench to fill in and finished with six kills.
“I thought she did a phenomenal job filling in on Mo’s behalf,” Flagtvedt said of Johnson.
Emilie Braun led the Raiders with 14 kills while Maddie Funk wasn’t far behind, with 11.
The Raiders are unable to improve their playoff positioning in Thursday’s Sparks showdown with Spanish Springs but Flagtvedt is still expecting a fun atmosphere in the Reed gym.
When the teams met at Spanish Springs three weeks ago, both student sections were electric, yelling chants back and forth throughout.
“I’m sure it (the crowd) is going to be huge,” Flagtvedt said. “I would say it is probably going to be similar to what it was at Spanish Springs.”