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Wildcats scratch past county rival

October 15, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - The names change and so do the faces, but the electricity of a Smithsburg-Williamsport volleyball match is everlasting.

The Harts and Wilkeses of Williamsport and the Bachtells and Brennans of Smithsburg of days gone by are vivid memories, but the Wildcats and Leopards of today continued to keep this showcase rivalry in the forefront Tuesday.

Smithsburg got the upperhand early, but Williamsport used its experience - along with a few crucial four-point runs - to steamroll to a 25-21, 25-14, 25-14 Monocacy Valley Athletic League Antietam Conference victory in the only regular-season meeting between the schools.

"Boy, we started slow, didn't we?" Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree said. "We had an intense practice (Monday) and we were up for it. Maybe we had too much adrenaline ... it might have slowed us down. But once we got the first game under our belts, it seemed to relax us."

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The youthful Leopards were just as psyched for the opening game and jetted off to the early lead, only to let Williamsport methodically come back and grab the two-point win.

"We are a young team," said Smithsburg coach Rachel Bachtell, a veteran of the Williamsport-Smithsburg saga. "We did a nice job in the first game. Our intensity was high, but in Game 2, we got down."

The Leopards hung tight in the beginning stages of the second game until Staci Grabill opened a three-point serving run - keyed by a pair of Lindsey Plotner blocks - to give the Wildcats a 12-7 lead.

Heather Bywaters brought Smithsburg back within 13-11 and 15-12 before Williamsport scored 10 of the next 12 points, closing with four straight service points by Kris Weir, to file away the second game.

"Those little scoring runs helped us big time," Crabtree said. "Once you get that little bit of a cushion, it allows you to try different things. After that first game, (Smithsburg) had some mental mistakes and that helped us and it snowballed."

Grabill started Williamsport on a run of six straight points to turn an 11-8 game into a nine-point lead and the Leopards never recovered. Williamsport traded points down the stretch to close out with the 11-point margin.

Plotner led Williamsport with 17 points and eight kills and Weir added 12 kills as the Wildcats assumed control in the final two games. Katie Saufly added 13 service points and Grabill had 12 assists. Smithsburg had nine kills by Kenzie Bowen and seven more by Bywaters while Molly Powell had eight assists.

Under the new league format, the home-and-home series are a thing of a past, reducing the rivalry to one regular-season meeting per season. It means there are fewer appetizers leading to the main course of the playoffs.

"I told (Bachtell) that we will see them in the playoffs," Crabtree said. "This meeting was important, but it was different. It would have been a bigger win if it had been in the playoffs ... that's where it all counts."

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