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Purple reign ... Smithsburg wins state volleyball title

November 22, 1998

Smithsburg champsBy CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




CATONSVILLE, Md. - The expression on Carey Brennan's face told the whole story.

The perpetual smile was missing, as were the pregame pranks. The Smithsburg High School senior was all business.

She knew there would be plenty of time for pleasure after the Leopards secured the Maryland Class 1A state volleyball championship with a relatively easy 15-4, 15-3, 15-2 victory over Allegany before a sea of vocal, purple-clad spectators at Catonsville Community College on Saturday.

"It feels awesome," said Brennan. "This accounts for everything. From the very beginning, we wanted to win the state championship, and now we've done it."

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For Brennan, teammate Rachel Bachtell and head coach Jim Klein, the beginning was four years ago when, as freshmen, Bachtell and Brennan were promoted to the varsity squad.

Since that time, Smithsburg has won 60 games against just 10 losses. But until Saturday, it had been unable to attain its ultimate goal.

For Bachtell, the win was like a weight being lifted off her shoulders.

"We came so close in each of the last three years," said the Leopards' outside hitter. "To finally get to this point and win is just unbelievable."

Brennan and Bachtell were just 6 years old in 1989, when Smithsburg claimed its last state volleyball title. Freshman Jenelle Stouffer is hoping the next will come much sooner.

"This is just so amazing," said the defensive specialist. "It's been such an honor to play with all these great seniors. I just hope we can do it again next year."

But it wasn't all Brennan and Bachtell.

Senior setter Kelli Martin finished with 25 assists, giving her an amazing 103 assists in the last three games. Casey Nogle, another senior, tied a tournament record with 100 percent serving efficiency - going 29 for 29 in the two state tournament games - and added five kills and five digs in the title game.

Kelly Ashley contributed seven service points and three kills.

"It's great," said Nogle. "We wanted this really badly, and we went out and got it."

For the senior players, the win was the culmination of months of grueling practices and hard work. But for Klein, who debated about returning for his fourth season as head coach, the win was something more.

"This is sad," said Klein, choking back his emotions. "It's sad because this is the first freshman class to go the whole way through the program with me. I've seen them grow up. I've kicked a lot of ball carts to see this be so special."

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