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Volleyball Notes - Rockets, Spartans set for clash of unbeatens

October 03, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

For the second time in a week, two undefeated area teams will collide when No. 5 James Buchanan travels to No. 6 McConnellsburg on Monday night, with the winner one step closer to a postseason berth and a perfect regular season.

The game carries added significance because of the series history: The Spartans (9-0) have never lost to the Rockets (12-0), prompting JB coach Erica Piper to say a win against McConnellsburg would be "huge."

"They're gonna come after us," Spartans coach Greg Hays said. "We're gonna have home (court), but I don't know how much that will matter. ... (JB has) progressed and they continue to get stronger and stronger. It's gonna be an excellent game."

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According to Piper, should JB (12-0) manage to knock off McConnellsburg (9-0), it would be just what the Rockets need.

"It'd be a huge uplift for the girls, it'd give them confidence," Piper said. "Right now I think their confidence is low. ... lately, they've just been playing not to lose instead of playing to win. They realize everyone is out to beat us.

"It would be huge to win Monday night because the girls respect McConnellsburg, they have a great program. To beat them would be trememdous."

While JB seeks to make school history by knocking off the Spartans, McConnellsburg plans to treat the matchup as a measuring stick for how far it is.

"I think it's gonna be an excellent challenge," Hays said. "It has the flavor of the postseason, and for that purpose, going into the match, it will be a good prep for if we do get into the postseason."

McConnellsburg's three seniors - Heather DeShong, Steph Paylor and Lesley Umbrell - are supported by standout underclassmen Heidi Swope and Kara Carmack. The Spartans will need contributions from all of the above on Monday.

"To be competitive against them and be able to win, everyone has to step up their game and we have to play at consistent level," Hays said. "They know who our weapons are. It comes down to who can stop who and who can play the most consistent game. It's exciting to have a matchup like this in midseason so we can see where we're at."

James Buchanan is led by seniors Abby Stoner and Emilee Seville, while junior Lindsay Crider sets up the attack and sophomore Ashleigh Helfrick was the MVP of the McConnellsburg Tournament on Sept. 7 with 31 kills.

"Most of the games we play, either our offense is strong and our defense is weak, or our defense is strong and our offense is weak," Piper said. "We need to put it all together. ... If all four come together and play decent, we shouldn't have any trouble. All four need to step up."

Who made this schedule?

North Hagerstown (4-3, 2-2 Monocacy Valley Athletic League) played its first two non-tournament games and three of its first six against No. 1 Williamsport (twice) and Smithsburg.

The bad news - the Hubs lost all three games, although they did take the Leopards to five games on Sept. 5 and the Wildcats to four on Sept. 23.

The good news - North doesn't face either team the rest of the season. Should the Hubs win out, they will face Middletown in the regular season finale, with third place in the conference possibly at stake.

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