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Smithsburg sweeps into final

November 18, 1998

Smithsburg vs. Rising SunBy CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




ESSEX, Md. - Carey Brennan is thin, and stands on the shy side of 5-feet-11 inches; not an imposing figure by any stretch of the imagination.

But to the young Rising Sun volleyball team, she probably appeared to be 10 feet and massive as she skied high above the net to pound 20 kills, leading Smithsburg to a 15-4, 15-11, 15-10 sweep of the Tigers in the Maryland Class 1A volleyball tournament at Essex Community College Tuesday night.

--cont. from sports page--

The win sends the Leopards into the state championship game to face Allegany, a winner over Hereford in five games, Saturday afternoon at 2:30 at Catonsville Community College.

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"Their middle hitter (Brennan) was the difference in the game," said Rising Sun coach Richard Bowers. "There was just nothing we could do to stop her. She's a superior player."

Although Brennan did most of the damage at the net, Casey Nogle was equally devastating from the service line, finishing with 21 service points (47 percent of Smithsburg's points) and four aces.

"I just concentrated on getting the ball over," said Nogle. "I didn't do anything different. I just got on the line and served the ball as soon as I got it."

It was Brennan and Nogle who sparked the seemingly easy win in the first game.

The first five points came on Brennan kills, while Nogle followed with seven straight points and a pair of aces to build a 12-1 Leopards advantage before closing it out with two more points.

Rising Sun (15-3) made it considerably more difficult in Game 2, gradually building an 11-9 advantage while scoring no more than two points on any service opportunity.

But a thunderous Brennan kill for a sideout seemed to light a fire under the Leopards (16-2), and change the momentum. Nogle responded with six unanswered service points and capped the win with her third ace of the evening.

"Our momentum really slowed down after (the Tigers) started serving better," said Brennan. "We shanked a few, but we picked it back up and won the match."

Smithsburg coach Jim Klein felt his club may have become a little complacent after taking the first game with relative ease.

"Once you start coasting, it's easy to fall back on your heels and relax," said the Leopards coach. "Rising Sun's style is a little different than North (Hagerstown's) and Williamsport's aggressive, big offense. A lot of their free balls and soft rolls caught us by surprise. For every big attack they had, our defense was set up flawlessly, but we struggled with their free ball, passive attack."

While Brennan and Nogle were taking care of matters at opposite ends of the floor, Kelli Martin and Rachel Bachtell controlled things in the middle. Martin's 35 assists gives her 78 in the last two matches, and Bachtell led all players with 14 digs.

"Our passing has improved a lot throughout the season," said Martin. "They weren't perfect tonight, but they were plenty good enough."

The final game began much like the first, with Smithsburg racing to a 9-1 lead behind four more Nogle service points, three from Bachtell and a pair from Martin. However, six unanswered Tigers points, three each by Rae Mason and Heather Steppe ,closed the gap to 11-7.

Bachtell followed with two more service points and clinched the championship berth with a kill.

Mason's eight service points led the Tigers, while Jen Allen finished with four of Rising Sun's 11 kills.

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