DIVISION I: Spanish Springs rallies to topple Green Valley

RENO — For one set, things looked good for Green Valley’s quest to become the first girls volleyball team to repeat as champion in the state’s top classification since 2004.

The next three didn’t go so well, however, and instead Spanish Springs claimed the first state title in its history, winning the Division I final, 12-25, 25-12, 25-21, 25-22.

It was a stunning turnaround from a first set in which the Gators (33-5) barely broke a sweat.

“First and foremost, Spanish Springs played an outstanding match, and our hats are off to the state champions,” Green Valley coach Erin Hill said. “They just started serving very efficiently and effectively, and our passing went awry.”

Nikki Drost had 14 kills, Bridgette Dwyer 10 and Carly Schiess nine for the Gators. But late in the third and fourth sets, Green Valley had trouble putting the ball down.

“They got their big middle up against our middle,” Hill said.

Spanish Springs (37-7) scored four straight points after the third set was tied at 18.

In the fourth set, a kill by Madison McCarthy put Green Valley ahead 21-18, but Spanish Springs again scored four straight, and a block by Gabrielle Szachara gave the Cougars the lead for good.

“They have two big outsides and a strong block, so we had to try to play up to them,” Szachara said.

Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said his team saw the Gators start quickly against Bishop Manogue in Friday’s semifinal but took heart that Manogue came back to take the match to a fifth set.

“They’re such a good team, it takes a little time to adjust to how they’re playing,” Sandomenico said.

The Gators had a relatively quick turnaround after finishing the match against Manogue at approximately 11:30 p.m. Friday. Green Valley outlasted the Miners, 25-11, 25-18, 22-25, 23-25, 15-10.

Spanish Springs also went the distance to advance to the final, holding off Bishop Gorman 25-18, 25-21, 12-25, 19-25, 17-15 in Friday’s first Division I semifinal.

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