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Eagles take section title match to heart

November 07, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Sometimes, the stat sheet gives a clue why one team won and the other lost. Other times, when two teams are as closely matched as Hedgesville's and Hampshire's volleyball squads are, one has to look beyond the numbers.

"Maybe just desire (and) heart," Eagles coach Lori Zick said Thursday night after Hedgesville dug deep for a 27-25, 21-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-13 victory over the Trojans in the Region II, Section 1 championship. "They wanted it so bad and never gave up. Even on a bad streak, they stayed up, stayed pumped and kept it together."

Watching the teams battle at Hedgesville Middle School, one got the impression each team was playing against a mirror image of itself. So close were Hedgesville and Hampshire in every phase - serving, passing, setting, attacking and defense - that all but one game - the fourth - came down to the final three or four points.

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"We just had to work as a team and keep it together," Eagles senior Lauren Pitzer said. "We played really well against them. We came back and won all the games we needed to win."

In the fifth and deciding game, Pitzer's run of five straight service points - including two aces - gave Hedgesville an 8-5 lead. But, to the surprise of no one in the gym, Hampshire fought back and claimed a brief 12-11 lead before two Trojans errors and a block by Amanda Dellinger pushed the Eagles to match point at 14-12.

Kayla Laing's kill attempt failed to clear the net, giving Hampshire serve down, 14-13. But on the next point, Pitzer's kill attempt glanced off the fingertips of the Trojans' block and over everybody for the winning point.

"I was pretty successful on that one," Pitzer said.

Hampshire had a game point leading 25-24 in Game 1, but Hedgesville scored the final three points on Dellinger's block and kills by Laing and Pitzer.

The Eagles had leads of 15-10 and 19-15 in Game 2, but passing and communications breakdowns allowed the Trojans to score 10 of the final 12 points to tie the match at 1-1.

"A lot of our holes tonight were because of communication," Zick said. "A couple times we weren't talking with each other. You always have to do the fundamentals well."

The teams were tied at 23-23 in Game 3, with Hampshire claiming the game's final two points on kills from Jenna Barnes and Kacey Largent for a 2-1 lead.

But Hedgesville responded with its best game of the match, using Pitzer's run of seven straight service points to take a 24-13 lead and finishing it six points later.

"(Coach) just gave us positive encouragement, saying we can do this," Ryan Mills said. "The whole team has heart."

Mills led the Eagles with 14 kills, while Megan Grant had 10 kills and six blocks. Lauren Ashton - a freshman - had 34 assists and 12 service points (eight on aces) and Pitzer added 21 servicve points.

By making the sectional title game, both Hedgesville and Hampshire qualified for the four-team Region II tournament Saturday at East Fairmont. It's a quick turnaround for an Eagles squad which has to be physically drained, but Zick isn't worried about the energy spent.

"(The win) was good for them pressure-wise," Zick said. "Tomorrow we get out of school early, and we'll have a light practice and get on the bus. They have the whole bus ride to rest. They can handle it, it's me who won't get any sleep."

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