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Williamsport volleyball team wins state title

November 18, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

CATONSVILLE, Md. - The spotlight shined brightly on Williamsport's volleyball team Saturday afternoon, and one by one, each Wildcat took her turn to bask in it.

From senior leaders Meggie Miller and Denise Sullivan to juniors Lindsey Plotner, Staci Grabill, Katie Saufley and Kristin Weir, everyone wearing a Wildcats uniform stepped up and gave Williamsport something else it needed in a 15-6, 15-7, 7-15, 15-9 victory over Poolesville in the Class 1A state championship game.

"Today it was a team effort," coach Kristi Gee said. "I don't think any one person stood out over anyone else. ... The girls don't get down on one another, they pick one another up, and that kept us in this match (mentally). They've been enjoyable to coach, they have good personalities, they work hard and have fun."

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After Poolesville gained a 3-0 lead in Game 1, Miller got the Wildcats going with three consecutive kills - the first of her game-high 27 kills - as Williamsport won the next eight points and cruised from there.

"She's been the leader on the floor, especially in big games," Gee said. "We've done it all year where it takes us a few points to get going, but then we roll."

"The passes were there, and everything started forming," Miller said.

Weir (four kills, one block) did most of her damage later in Game 1, giving Poolesville another thing to worry about as the 5-foot-5 middle hitter played taller than her frame.

"She's that other middle (hitter) you don't expect, but she gets key kills and blocks when we need them," Gee said.

Williamsport took a 7-2 lead in Game 2 before Poolesville fought back to tie the game at 7. But the Wildcats regained control behind Plotner (11 kills, three blocks, eight service points), who had two kills and a block on the three points after Poolesville tied it.

Later, Grabill (20 assists, 13 service points) stepped to the service line with an 11-7 lead and finished the match with three drop-serve aces and another good serve that helped set up a Miller kill, as Williamsport took a two-game lead.

"I was just thinking about getting them over and in," Grabill said of her serves. "I look to the coaches to tell me where to serve, and since they have confidence in me, it's a lot easier serving ... I was very surprised (with the aces). I went up there, had confidence in myself, and luckily, they just dropped."

"She had an awesome serve game tonight and came up with key serves when we needed them," Gee said.

The Wildcats suffered a hiccup in Game 3, After taking a 5-1 lead, Poolesville's defense stepped up and started frustrating Williamsport.

"They were digging up things I didn't think they could dig, and hitting balls hard I didn't think they could," Miller said.

The Wildcats' fundamentals started to break down, and the Falcons - who specialize in making teams beat them instead of beating themselves - took advantage.

"We didn't feel like we were pulling together as a team," Saufley said. "We were letting the ball drop everywhere, and our heart wasn't in it. We knew they'd be a hard team (to beat), and we had to roll with the punches.

"We knew after losing the third game, we couldn't drop the fourth game or we'd put ourselves in the same situation we put Smithsburg in last year. ... We went through the first two games by a large margin, and they stuck with us the third game. We had to get back to the basics that got us here."

Miller had two kills and a block to give Williamsport a 3-0 lead in Game 4, but Poolesville fought back, taking a brief 5-4 lead.

Needing another spark, and with Miller on the back row, Plotner and Saufley stepped to the front. With Sullivan serving, both juniors had two kills and Plotner added a block as Williamsport took a 9-5 lead it would not give up.

"The seniors did step up, but I felt the juniors needed to step up, and me and Lindsey did step up," Saufley said. "We wanted to go up strong and (finish) points."

"They came through when we needed them," Gee said. "Lindsey and Katie had confidence, and they really stepped up to the challenge."

Leading 13-9, Miller stepped to the line and served the final two points, finished off by Sullivan's kill on match point that gave the Wildcats the title.

"It's been a team effort all year, but the seniors showed a lot of leadership," Gee said.

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