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Wildcats win state title

November 18, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Seconds before Meggie Miller served the final point of the Maryland Class 1A state championship game against Poolesville Saturday afternoon, junior setter Staci Grabill turned toward senior setter Denise Sullivan and surprised her with eight simple words: "You're a senior. This is coming to you."

"I was pretty surprised," Sullivan said. "I'm not a big hitter."

But on the last point of her high school career, Sullivan became one.

Grabill stayed true to her word, setting up Sullivan for the game-winning kill attempt. Sullivan leapt into the air and slammed the ball down to the court between several Poolesville defenders, giving the Wildcats a 15-6, 15-7, 7-15, 15-9 victory and their first state title since 1999.

"It felt pretty good to slam that one to the floor," Sullivan said.

"I have a lot of confidence in her, and I knew she'd put it down," Grabill said. "I wanted to end it where Denise ... had an opportunity to win it for us, and she did."

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Following the final score, Sullivan turned and met the glance of fellow senior Meggie Miller - a catalyst for Williamsport (19-1) offensively and defensively all season. They shared a well-earned smile, made sweeter by their experiences of the last two years.

The Wildcats made the championship game in 2001 and, after falling behind two games to none against Smithsburg, rallied to win the next two games. But Williamsport came up short in the deciding fifth game.

One year later, Sullivan and Miller met their final goal together.

"I looked at Maggie; we're seniors and we both badly wanted this," Sullivan said. "We've been playing since sixth grade and we're good friends.

"We wanted it so bad last year, and after going five games (in the loss) and playing so well, we decided we were gonna win it this year."

"Denise wanted this so much, and we both wanted this for each other," Miller said. "For her to get the last point really meant a lot. ... Just to have a state title under my belt is just amazing."

None of the players on this year's Wildcats squad played on the 1999 championship team, making the victory a new experience for everyone except coach Kristi Gee.

"I'm very excited and very happy to get this championship," Gee said. "It's something I know the seniors have wanted after coming so close last year. They were able to finish their careers as champions."

"(The seniors) deserve this," Grabill said. "They won the game for us. They pulled us through and gave us confidence."

Williamsport won its ninth volleyball title - the second most in the state. The Wildcats' 17 state tournament appearances are the most by any team.

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