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Williamsport, Smithsburg set for Monday match

September 30, 2000

Williamsport, Smithsburg set for Monday match



By CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent


What better time than during an election year to have two of the area's top three volleyball teams square off in the first of what likely will be three intense match-ups this season.

Not unlike the Democrats and Republicans, the teams employ divergent philosophies which has netted both an undefeated season to date.

That will change Monday, when the No. 3 Wildcats travel to Smithsburg to face the No. 1 Leopards. Still, neither coach places a great deal of importance on the outcome.

"It's not as important to win this one as it is to win the third one," said Williamsport coach Kristi Gee. "We don't put as much stress on the first one. We use it as a learning tool to find out where we stand, and what we have to do to get where we want to be."

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Referring to his state championship season in 1998, Klein said, "We didn't even put in most of our offense until after we played Williamsport the first time. We focused on defense first and then worked our offense into it, and we played better against them each time. I don't think the first match is a barometer for how the rest of the season will go."

Philosophically, the two teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Williamsport plays a fundmentally sound game, emphasizing serving accuracy and solid passing to dispose of opponents. Danielle Munson, Meggie Miller, Julie Shank and Kristine Porac all rank in the top nine in the area in serving percentage, each averaging well over 95 percent.

"Being that they are so much more disciplined than we are I think we have to take more risks and be more aggressive,'' said Klein, "We still have plenty of areas to improve; enough that I'm extremely concerned about Monday night."

The Leopards rely on taking calculated risks to maximize offensive potency. Paced by Michelle Feiser, Heather Ashley, Lauren Richards and Katie Powell at the net, the Leopards (6-0) rely on the riskier, hard-to-handle serves to take the pressure off their defense.

"They have some great hitters," said Gee. "We'll have to play tremendous defense in order to compete against their hitters. But the girls know that, and we've been working hard on our defense this week in practice."

If it's possible to be undefeated and enter the match on a low point, that might apply to Williamsport (6-0), which needed four games to dispose of South Hagerstown in its most recent match.

"In one way, it may have boosted Smithsburg's confidence to see us struggle against a team that historically has not been as strong," said Gee. "I think we had a mental letdown and now the girls know we can't do that against good teams."

On the other hand, the Leopards are likely on a high after an impressive sweep of Class 2A power Francis Scott Key a week ago. Smithsburg has swept all six opponents thus far this season.

"I think (in the past) the FSK game has been a better barometer of the season," said Klein. "When we've struggled against FSK, we've played much worse at the end of the season. But with (FSK middle hitter Emily) Stonesifer being injured, I'm not sure we can use that game to determine the rest of the year."

If recent history is any indication, the Leopards will likely discover what playing more than three games feels like.

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