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Unbeaten Hubs sweep away Knights

September 15, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - With starters Kierra Nelson and Brooke Ward out of North Hagerstown's lineup, the Hubs pieced together a makeshift starting six and barely missed a beat in earning a bit of vengeance against Middletown.

Six-foot-three freshman Kaitlin Zimmer had 11 kills and several other Hubs made significant contributions as North swept the Knights 25-18, 25-20, 25-22 on Tuesday.

"Right before we got here, we had to go over a completely new rotation," Hubs coach Corry Eagler said. "At one time we had three setters on the front row. With seven seniors, they don't care, all they want to do is win.

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"We were all in different positions, but we came together as a team," North senior Katie Plume said. "We have a lot more chemistry this year."

North (5-0) avenged last year's heartbreaking loss to Middletown in the Class 2A West quarterfinals.

"There's the county schools, and then there's Middletown, which is completely different," Eagler said. "After the loss in the playoffs, this was a goal of ours - to beat them."

Once again, Zimmer played up to her 6-3 frame as an imposing presence on the Hubs' front line. She had five kills in the first game - four coming in the Hubs' 9-5 run which gave North a 20-16 lead - to become a factor early.

"I don't want to put too much emphasis on her because she is a freshman and we need everybody to play well to win," Eagler said. "But she has that presence, and she can hit balls that are off. She makes a huge difference on offense."

"I knew they had a 6-3 freshman. By the time she learns to hit the ball, she'll be intimidating," Middletown coach Jaime Pryor said. "We're more focused on our own problems than stopping a 6-3 freshman. ... No disrespect to her, I'd gladly take a 6-3 freshman, too."

While Zimmer stands out - literally - North's supporting cast played well.

Tracy Hinkle, Plume and Ariel Kifer all had five kills, Hinkle had 18 assists, Kifer had 12 service points and four aces, Lindsey Grove had 10 service points and four aces and Steph Horchner added seven service points.

"This is a completely different team, and I think if you read the paper, some people are starting to realize, hey, North has a team now," Eagler said. "We're not going to be a walkover (in the MVAL Antietam)."

Kyra Davis had 14 assists and Amanda Lewis had six kills for Middletown, which struggled to find any consistency on offense and made too many errors to pose a serious threat.

The Knights did put up resistance in the third game, taking a 15-8 lead, but the Hubs answered with a 16-5 run - with seven of North's points coming on Middletown miscues - following a timeout and put the Knights away.

"That's what's killing us, is inconsistency," Pryor said. "We're working out the kinks. We'd rather beat them in the quarterfinals."

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