There would not be a sweep this time.
With first place on the line, and a raucous gym at McQueen, the volleyball match between Spanish Springs and McQueen came to down to which team blinked first.
The Lancers handled the pressure slightly better and came away with a 3-2 win, 25-13, 22-25, 21-25, 25-21 and 16-14, as fans poured onto the court with the final point.
The win puts McQueen in first place in the High Desert League with a 10-3 record. They have the tiebreaker over Spanish Springs, which fell to 11-4 in league, 21-10 overall.
“Oh my gosh, it was like a roller-coaster,” McQueen senior Holly White said. “Our team just came together and our hard work paid off.”
The Lancers raced to the first game win as the Cougars seemed rattled early and were shying away from blockers. But they calmed down and won the second, thanks to a 9-4 run. In the third, they broke an 18-18 tie with a 4-0 run. McQueen recovered quickly and led the entire fourth game.
The fifth was going the Cougars’ way as they led 11-8 before a timeout.
Three Lancers had nine kills each, Hanna Spevack, Holly White and Aubrey Pitts. Malia Redmon had 24 assists and 10 digs.
Spevack had 18 digs and White had 14. Pitts had five blcoks. Taylor Forte had eight kills and Alyssa Zucco had 19 digs and three aces.
McQueen coach Jeff Zimmerman said his team handled the pressure-packed situation well.
When he called the time out in game five, they went on to tie it at 14-14.
“I said to them, ‘Keep calm, play as we play. Keep your emotions in check,’” he told his team. “We needed this. It was a good pressure situation we wanted to go through and it worked out.”
He said trying to get blockers in front of the Cougars’ Emily Moore was a big part of the game plan.
“She still had a bunch of kills, but we slowed her down a little bit,” he said.
Moore was phenomenal for Spanish Springs. She had 21 kills and Ireland Bennett had 10. Mackenzie O’Connell dished out 43 assists and had 16 digs. Kennedy Stroshine had 14 digs.
McQueen senior Hanna Spevak said it was among the most nerve-wracking situations she could image.
“Probably the most pressure possible, in any game,” Spevack said. “League champion on the line, and game to five, win by two. … We just have a lot of trust in each other. We’re friends on and off the court. We look to each other, we trust one each other, we know what we can do.”
McQueen has seven seniors.
“This is our year to do it. We have the skill and we have the coaches. We have the team connectivity,” Spevack said. “We can just put it all out there this year.”
Two weeks ago, Spanish Springs swept McQueen at home.
“Two great teams, playing to game five, anything can happen,” Spanish Springs coach Frank Sandomenico said. “It was like a playoff-type atmosphere, so that was encouraging.”
Last season, the Cougars finished 5-11, playing with 10 sophomores. They started this season with a 2-3 record before straightening things out. Their lone senior, Sami Szachara, had seven kills Thursday.
The Lancers have two matches left, at Hug and against Reno next week.
Spanish Springs plays at Reed on Oct. 31.