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Williamsport falls in 1A volleyball final

November 17, 1996

By CURT HORNBECKER

Staff Correspondent

CATONSVILLE, Md. - Only seconds into the Class 1A championship match Saturday afternoon, Williamsport's Melissa Barrett got a taste of the volleyball. And the Wildcats got a taste of things to come.

Barrett's game-opening serve was returned with a vengeance by Francis Scott Key's Cindy Sheedy, striking Barrett squarely in the face. It was that kind of day for the Eagles, who swept the defending state champion Wildcats 15-10, 15-13, 15-1, in a rematch of last year's final.

FSK's powerful middle hitters, Sheedy and Stephanie Stambaugh, dominated play throughout, combining for 21 kills. The entire Williamsport team had 13 kills.

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The Wildcats whipped FSK 3-1 during the regular season, but Saturday was a different story.

"We definitely did not play our best volleyball," said Kristi Hart, the Wildcats' first-year coach. "I don't know what to attribute it to. FSK played hard. It was a different team from when we played them during the regular season.

"(The Eagles') two middle hitters were a big factor," she added. "This is the first time our middle has been taken out of the match early. In the regular-season game we started blocking them early, but today they were hitting the ball hard."

Williamsport (18-2) went ahead 8-2 in the opener, but the Eagles (18-1) responded with eight straight points, including five from Stambaugh, to take a lead they would not relinquish.

"After the first game we started getting our heads down," Williamsport senior Donna Hudson said. "You could really notice it. There were spurts when we got them back up, but they dropped again."

Facing a 3-0 deficit in the second game, Britt Jones served four straight points to give the Wildcats their final lead of the day. Stambaugh and Sheedy began asserting themselves, and Williamsport went five successive serves without scoring. Stambaugh finished the game with six kills. Sheedy added three.

Williamsport had one last run late in game two. Amanda Llewellyn served four straight points to close the gap to 14-13, but it was Sheedy's kill that ended the rally and Sheedy's serve that ended the game.

Senior Carrie Weimer said losing the second game deflated the Wildcats.

"It's very disappointing," she said. "We had a really good season. It's too bad it had to end like this. We just lost our confidence at the end of the second game. It's hard to come back after you've lost the first two games."

Game three was all FSK. Stambaugh added five kills, and Erin Ness scored six straight points. Williamsport looked completely out of synch.

"We did not get a lot from our offense as far as hard hitting, but they got blocked," Hart said. "I told the girls they have to be more aggressive, but they just didn't have it today.

"(But) I'm really proud of the girls," Hart added. "I know every one of them is disappointed with the loss, but they put forth a tremendous effort all season."

Jones' seven points and four kills led the Wildcats. Molli Moyer added six points and Llewellyn had five.

"It's disappointing, because we've been looking forward to this," said Jones, one of seven Williamsport seniors. "But you have to think that you're here, and a lot of people didn't make it this far. We put our all into it, and just didn't get it. But we made it here."

Just appearing was enough for the Wildcats to establish a state record for most tournament appearances. Williamsport has participated in 14 of 22 state tournaments since 1975. The Wildcats have seven state championships, which ties them for the state record.

Last season, FSK defeated Williamsport in the regular season, but lost to the Wildcats in the state championship match. This season, the teams reversed roles.

"This was a completely different setting," Williamsport senior Janet Richmond said. "This was the state championship. We just didn't play as well as we did at FSK. We were more consistent with our passing, our hitting and our blocking."

"Last year (after losing to the Eagles), we had nothing to lose," Barrett said. "This year we wanted to play like we had nothing to lose. There was a lot of pressure, and we usually play well under pressure, but we didn't get the breaks today that we usually do."

Weimer summed up the difference between last year's title match and this year's: "There were the same amount of tears, but this year is a lot sadder."

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