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Leopards take care of business

October 18, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - After an early wake-up call, No. 2 Smithsburg found another gear and took care of business against No. 8 Middletown.

Katie Franklin had 26 assists and Katy Powell had 24 kills Thursday as the Leopards shook off a 14-16 loss in Game 1 and rebounded to take the next three games, 15-6, 15-6, 15-1.

"We started out somewhat slow, and we were getting burnt by some of their offspeed stuff," Smithsburg coach Alexa Robertson said of Middletown's attack. "After we adjusted our defense to their offense, we were fine."

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The Leopards (10-1, 7-1 Monocacy Valley Athletic League) seemed on their way to an easy victory in Game 1, taking advantage of numerous errors by the Knights in building an 8-2 lead.

But Middletown (7-3, 3-2) cut down on the mistakes, kept the ball in the court and started finding holes in Smithsburg's defense. Kristin Young had nine of her 20 assists in the run, finding Amber Holian for four kills and Allison Jarkey for three, while Cathy Phillips had six blocks as the Knights railled to take a 14-11 lead.

Middletown misfired on three games points as Smithsburg tied the game at 14-14, but Holian's kill gave the Knights serve. After Smithsburg was called for a lift that gave Middletown a fourth game point, Jarkey's left-handed tip found the floor for the win.

"We had a lot of intensity," Middletown coach Jamie Pryor said. "Our crowd was excited and into it. But our excitement kind of fizzled."

That's because the Leopards picked up both their defense and their serving, coming up with eight aces in the final three games.

Long serving runs gave Smithsburg big leads in each game. Katie Franklin's seven-point run in Game 2 turned a 2-1 lead into a 9-1 margin, while Annie Brucksch served up a six-point run in Game 3 and a seven-point run in Game 4, both of which put those games out of reach.

"We wanted to put the ball in play, be consistent and beat them that way," Brucksch, who finished with 18 service points, said. "We tried to cover (on defense) better and just stay on our toes. We weren't on our toes early, but we improved a lot those last three games."

"Our serving was really on tonight, which is a big part of our game," Robertson said. "I think when our serving's on, we're on."

Franklin finished with 13 service points, while Jenna Warrenfeltz had 10, Brittany Meadows had nine and Powell had eight.

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