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Ashley now Leopards' weapons expert

November 20, 2000

Ashley now Leopards' weapons expert



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


CATONSVILLE, Md. - There was a split second where dreams and reality crossed paths for Smithsburg's Heather Ashley.

The dream was there from the beginning of the season - to advance to and win the Maryland Class 1A state volleyball title again.

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If it were scripted, it couldn't have been any better. The Leopards stood front and center against Rising Sun on Saturday at the CCBC-Catonsville.

It seemed like a dream sequence, at least in the beginning of the first game. After six points, Ashley snapped out of the fog and was the beacon to lead the Leopards to a 15-4, 15-11, 15-6 victory.

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"It was the state championship," the junior middle hitter said. "We had a lot of jitters, but we didn't want to go home without winning."

Ashley started to take control midway through the first game and then used her power and finesse to help Smithsburg take its second title in three years.

"Heather was huge," said sophomore outside hitter Katy Powell. "She made up her mind that she was going to start putting the ball down. She was playing well and Jenelle (Stouffer) and Michelle (Feiser) were setting well. The whole team did its job."

And with authority. Ashley's big hits started Smithsburg's momentum in the first game, and her light touch helped put the Leopards over the top.

In all, Ashley had 16 kills and seven blocks, not to mention the hits that swung sideouts over to the Leopards.

"She showed me a lot in the second game," Rising Sun coach Rich Wilson said. "We started to block her well in the second game and they kept swinging at us. Then she showed that she can hit over and around our blocks."

The heavy hits kept Rising Sun digging the ball out of the back row and took away their attack. The dinks had the Tigers sprawling across the floor just to save points. And when they did get to Ashley, it opened chances up for other Smithsburg hitters, like Feiser and Powell.

In the second game, when Smithsburg trailed 9-5, Ashley became the decoy while Powell teed it up.

"It feels wonderful to go to states twice and get two state championships," Ashley said. "We knew we would win the states from the first day of practice. We had a lot of weapons to use and we used them all."

But Heather Ashley was the biggest gun of all, hitting the shots that turned the Leopards' dreams into reality.

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