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No. 2 Smithsburg tops No. 1 Williamsport-volleyball

October 01, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Try telling Smithsburg's volleyball team they're underdogs. The Leopards won't listen.

With senior captains Katy Powell and Katie Franklin leading the way, and their energy rubbing off on their teammates, No. 2 Smithsburg made a convincing case for the top spot in the Herald-Mail poll Monday, sweeping No. 1 Williamsport 16-14, 15-10, 15-6 in a matchup of unbeaten powers.

"When the girls saw the ratings in the paper, they were like, 'OK, if that's how it's gonna be, then this is what we're going to do,'" Smithsburg coach Alexa Robertson said. "If they were going to be the underdogs, they were going to win as underdogs."

The match ended the same way it started - with Franklin setting up Powell for one of her trademark thunderous kills. Franklin had 35 assists and Powell had 19 kills as the leaders of a Leopards squad which grew more and more confident with each point.

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"As seniors, I feel it's our job to lead," Powell said. "Everyone stepped up tonight. Everyone played up to their potential."

"It's hard to get all of us together and excited at the same time," Franklin said, "but when we do, we can't be beat."

Powell and Franklin led the way in the first game, combining 10 times for points or side outs as Smithsburg (7-0) built a 13-8 lead.

Behind Meggie Miller (11 kills, two blocks) and Lindsey Plotner (eight kills, three blocks), Williamsport (7-1) fought back to tie the game at 14-14, fending off five game points. But Brittany Meadows' kill gave serve back to Smithsburg, and kills from Powell and Heather Bywaters gave the Leopards Game 1.

Williamsport took leads of 3-0 and 9-6 in the second game, but mistakes derailed the Wildcats later. Smithsburg took a 12-10 lead on Annie Brucksch's ace, kills from Franklin, Meadows and Powell and two Williamsport errors. Three more Wildcats errors gave the Leopards the game.

Shaken, the Wildcats' passing failed them in the third game, and Williamsport was unable to sustain attacks for Miller and Plotner.

"If we had come out strong and been confident in our own skills, we could have kept it close," Wildcats coach Kristi Gee said. "After dropping the first two (games), we got down and lost confidence."

Meanwhile, the Leopards' confidence surged, with Bywaters, Meadows, Laura Lindsay and Kenzie Bowen all stepping up with kills as Smithsburg turned a 3-3 tie into a 13-4 lead and a runaway victory.

"I'm sure some people would say (we) could play better," Robertson said. "But as far as I'm concerned, when they're playing on that high, that's good enough for me."

Bywaters in particular provided Smithsburg the second frontline attack option the Leopards needed. Her eight kills and six blocks, combined with the play of Powell and Franklin, proved too much for Williamsport to handle.

"We knew we were going to win this game," Bywaters said. "We prepared all week to win this game. We had confidence, and we just knew we'd win. ... We said that right before the game, that we were going to prove to (Williamsport) that we were No. 1 and they were No. 2."

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