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Carson swept in opening round by Spanish Springs

Dan Eckles
deckles@dailysparkstribune.com

SPARKS – The Spanish Springs volleyball program knew nothing but losing through its first seven seasons – and lots of it. On Wednesday night those first years of existence seemed like a distant memory.

Spanish Springs collected a 25-23, 25-19, 25-16 over Carson in the first-round of the Northern 4A Regional Tournament. The triumph marked the first playoff win in the SSHS volleyball program’s 11-year history.

“It’s just awesome for these kids to reap the rewards. They’ve put in so much time,” fourth-year Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “This is exciting. This is an awesome group of kids. The best part is we get to keep playing.”

Spanish Springs (26-7) did indeed keep its season alive with the postseason victory. The Cougars advance to a Northern 4A semifinal Friday night at Galena High School. There, the SSHS spikers will meet perennial North power Bishop Manogue at 7 p.m.

“We’ve got a committed group,” said Spanish Springs senior Morgan Prince. “This was fun. The best game I’ve ever played in. We played pretty well. Our energy was good. We didn’t let them go on a big run. We kept our energy consistent.”

Spanish Springs earned the High Desert League’s No. 2 seed and with it the right to host a first-round playoff affair. The Cougars took advantage and got off to a good start on the friendly confines of their home campus. A Rachel Loadholt ace gave Spanish Springs a 13-7 lead early in Game 1.

Carson (14-15) wasn’t about to go away quickly. The visiting Senators used a string of six straight points to knot the first game at 14-14. The two teams traded points to a 23-22 Carson lead, but that’s as good as it got for the guests. Spanish Springs got a block from Lyndsey Anderson, a kill from Loadholt and another kill from Gabby Szachara to post the final three points and win the initial game.

“Our passing and serve receive has been a concern all year,” Carson coach Robert Maw said. “We never did get it to where it needed to be. You can’t run your offense and get into your system, if you can’t pass … kudos to Spanish Springs.”

Carson scored the first three points of Game 2, but Spanish Springs answered with the next five. Neither team could grab the momentum for much of Game 2. Carson held a slim 16-15 edge when Spanish Springs turned the tide.

The Cougars took a two game to none advantage after outscoring Carson 10-3 down the home stretch of the second game.

Still, Carson had some fight left. The Senators forged ahead 8-4 in Game 3 after Sarah Lushina served up an ace. For all intents and purposes, that proved to be the end of Carson’s night.

Spanish Springs scored the next five points and went on top 9-8. The Cougars did not trail again. After a 9-9 tie, Spanish Springs began to gradually pull away.

The margin was still three, 14-11 when the Cougars scored seven of the next 11 points and snared a 21-14 lead. Carson got as close as six, 22-16, but the hosts had the answer. They scored the final three points of Game 3 and sealed their sweep.

“We played well,” Sandomenico said. “Carson is a team that’s had playoff success, but we knew if we played our game we could beat them. This was a good test for us. Carson is a solid program … More than anything tonight, we just kept fighting. We never let anything get to us or bother us. We got our middles going and then Rachel (Loadholt) and Melly (Munley) were on fire.”

Carson’s stat sheet was limited in the losing sweep. Lushina and Alyson Christl each put down five kills. Brooklyn Maw had seven digs and Courtney Hack finished with four aces.

RENO SWEEPS DOUGLAS 

RENO – Reno eliminated Douglas from the 4A regionals with a 25-22, 25-16 and 25-16 victory Wednesday night.

Douglas closed out the season with a 10-17 record.

Savannah Wood had 10 kills and three blocks for Douglas, while Heidi Schefcik contributed 17 digs. Setter Haily Sclafani finished with 24 assists and six digs, while Amanda Wartgow had six kills and two digs. Cassi Uhart contributed nine kills.