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Wildcats seeking 3-for-all

November 13, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Can Williamsport beat Leopards again in 1998?

SMITHSBURG - North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown ... Boonsboro-Smithsburg ... Hancock-Berkeley Springs.

Last Friday, the boys took the center stage with their football rivalries. But move over fellas; tonight the girls take over with a rivalry in a match that REALLY means something.

--cont. from sports page--

This is Williamsport-Smithsburg III. The volleyball match that will decide which team will represent Washington County in next week's Class 1A Final Four. And if it needed any emphasis, all those pointed-end balls have been put away for the winter.

That means this match will be the only show in town. One worthy of center stage, especially since Williamsport (15-1) has won the first two meetings - which were played in a 10-day span - and must beat the Leopards for a third straight time to move to volleyball's promised land.

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"You don't know how many times I've heard that," Williamsport coach Kristi Gee said. "That is tough to do, but last year I had a pretty good team, and they had a pretty good team too, and they beat us three times. So it's possible we can do it."

This matchup has been the key to the region for the last few years under the current free-for-all style of playoff system. Last year, the Leopards knocked off the Wildcats in the South's semifinal round. This time the marbles are on the table for two teams who haven't played each other since Oct. 15.

"On one side, (losing twice to Williamsport) can leave some doubt," Smithsburg coach Jim Klein said. "But this is the first time we have had a final at home and we feel extremely lucky to be able to play at home. The kids look at it as the regular season was not a good measuring stick to our season."

These are the measurements, in basic terms. The battle may be won and lost with this key matchup: Rachel Bachtell and Carey Brennan - Smithsburg's big hitters - vs. Lettie Wilkes and Barb Spoonire - Williamsport's setters.

"If we get our defense in gear and get digs against their two big hitters, we can get our offense in gear," Gee said. "The key for us is to get the passes to our setters so we can get into our offense."

Both the rivalry and the chance for the season sweep are being downplayed but there is no hiding the importance of what's at stake this time around.

"It's Friday the 13th and anything can happen on that day," Klein said. "For someone it's going to be lucky and for the other it will be unlucky. We hope to be the lucky one."

But there's no denying that the South is being decided by the two teams that deserve to decide who represents the region at states.

"Other teams have the goal of playing for the state championship ... we are no different," Gee said. "We knew if we were going to have the chance to do it, we would come down to facing Smithsburg again. No matter who wins, there will be a great representative going to states."

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