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Smithsburg volleys by Williamsport

November 11, 2000|By DAN SPEARS

Smithsburg volleys by Williamsport



SMITHSBURG - For the first time all season, the Smithsburg volleyball team followed a game plan. For Williamsport, Saturday's Class 1A South region final was the first time it hadn't.

By the end of day, the Leopards' best-laid plan put the Wildcats to waste, as Smithsburg won 15-10, 9-15, 17-15, 15-11 to take the season series and a state semifinal berth before almost 900 spectators at the Smithsburg gym.

"It was the first time we put a game plan in all season," Smithsburg coach Jim Klein said. "We wanted to ... force them play defense all the way across the front row. It worked."

The first two games weren't a matter of who played better, but who played worse. In Game 3, though, the Leopards (16-1) began finding the mark thanks to solid setting and some clutch saves by Jenelle Stouffer.

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"The defense picked up, and the passing was beautiful," said Stouffer, who finished with 14 points and 28 assists. "It's just a beautiful thing to get passes like that."

Williamsport (15-2), on the other hand, saw little beautiful happen on offense. Its first touches were acceptable, but the normally reliable tandem of Kristine Porac and Meghan Foley were clearly off their game setting the ball all day.

"In the beginning, nerves played a part. They will in a situation like this," Williamsport coach Kristi Gee said. "But after the beginning, we still weren't going well and got cautious and starting second-guessing ourselves."

Despite all that, Williamsport led 14-13 and 15-14 in Game 3, but Smithsburg saved two game points before swiping the win on Katy Powell's serve, finishing it with a Michelle Feiser kill.

"That was something we struggled with all season," Gee said. "We'd get a couple of points to take a lead, but we didn't have that intensity to finish it right away. We said you couldn't do that against a team like Smithsburg."

Then the Leopards put it away behind a surprising source, hitter Lauren Richards. Richards didn't shine in the first two matchups with the Wildcats, but she hauled Smithsburg through Saturday. She finished with eight kills in Game 4, and 19 for the match to go with nine blocks.

"A lot of times, I get down on myself, but I had to set that aside today," Richards said. "Today everyone kept pushing me and we kept going."

"Heck, I had to feed her. She was hot," Stouffer said. "She was hungry, I gave her the ball."

In the end, though, the Leopards gave the ball to Feiser, who closed it with an ace on match point. Feiser finished with 16 kills and 23 assists, while Heather Ashley had 22 kills and six blocks.

It was the first time this season the two teams hadn't gone five games, and the Wildcats couldn't produce the same inspiration that won the second match and essentially gave them the MVAL title. Danielle Munson finished with 17 kills and 10 blocks, but it wasn't enough.

"Had we played our best and then gotten beat, I think we'd be OK," Gee said. "But knowing on a different day we could have played better and gotten a different result. ... Hindsight is always 20-20."

Smithsburg, however, is now focused on Tuesday's state semifinals at Essex Community College. The Leopards will play North champion Oakland Mills in a match that is both exciting and - after a season-long battle with the Wildcats - a slight letdown.

"I'm extremely happy for our kids because they've worked hard," Klein said. "But I'm disappointed. ... This should have been the game next Saturday (in the state championship), not today."

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