Watch out for these players, games

September 17, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

With the volleyball season already three weeks old, here's a quick glance at some things to keep an eye on as we roll through the rest of this month and into October:

Players to watch

· Jessie Ambrose, Jr., Boonsboro

A terrific quarterback for the Warriors, who claimed a second-place finish in the MVAL Antietam last year to break up the Williamsport-Smithsburg monopoly which had owned the conference. Ambrose, a 2003 Herlad-Mail All-Area First Team selection, shines while running Boonsboro's offense with her sets and heads-up play.

· Sammi Snodderly, Jr., Williamsport

A solid role-player on the Wildcats' 2003 state championship team, Snodderly has a chance to step up at her outside-hitter spot and fill the attacking role reserved for Megan Miller and Lindsey Plotner in recent seasons.


· Lauren Morrow, Sr., and Nicole Pagano, Sr., Thomas Johnson

Morrow, an outside hitter, and Pagano, an All-Area Second Team setter in 2003, must help fill the void left by All-Area Player of the Year Erin Maldo's graduation.

· Marta Hodge, Sr., Chambersburg

An All-Area First Team setter in 2003, Hodge guided the Trojans to the Mid-Penn Commonwealth championship. Chambersburg returned virtually its entire team, making one wonder how far the Herald-Mail's top-ranked squad can go this season. Hodge will once again lead the troops.

· Jessica Ritchey, Sr., Greencastle

Another stellar setter, Ritchey has already helped the Blue Devils defeat McConnellsburg and James Buchanan this season.

· Ashleigh Helfrick, Sr., James Buchanan

An All-Area First Team selection in 2003, Helfrick can get up and hit the ball from her outside spot. She beats teams with her smarts, too, routinely finding a defense's weak spot and placing her kills there.

· Candace Bard, Sr., Southern Fulton

Another very good front-line player, Bard should have plenty of success in the Sideling Hill League this season.

· Paige Tanner, Jr., and Karey Toms, Sr., Waynesboro

Both front-line players were All-Area Second Team selections in 2003, and they're both also reasons why the Maidens and new coach Lori Brooks may be capable of making a run at the Mid-Penn Colonial title.

· Megan Grant, Sr., Hedgesville

Filling the shoes of two-time West Virginia Player of the Year and 2002 All-Area Co-Player of the Year Ashley Copenhaver was not easy, but Grant did an admirable job for the Eagles in 2003 on the way to an All-Area Second Team nod.

Coaching changes

Aside from Brooks, two other coaches are making their debuts on the high school volleyball scene this season.

· Erin Peck takes over for Greg Hays at McConnellsburg. It won't be easy for Peck to match what Hays accomplished with the Spartans over 19 seasons, in which he won more than 300 games, several Sideling Hill titles and made numerous appearances in the PIAA District 5-A finals.

· Chuck Weaver takes over for Melissa McElroy at South Hagerstown. The Rebels are a program on the rise following a 10-7 campaign in 2003. South has all six starters back, ony one (Jamie Fowler) who's a senior, so Weaver and the Rebels will likely be a player in the MVAL Antietam for the next few years.

Games to watch

· All games involving any combination of Boonsboro, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg, South Hagerstown and Williamsport.

These five teams all have pieces in place to make a run at the MVAL Antietam title, making the conference as competitive as it's been in perhaps a decade or longer, going back before the merger between the MVAL and CMC.

· Chambersburg at Greencastle, Oct. 4; Chambersburg at Waynesboro, Oct. 11; Greencastle at Waynesboro, Oct. 18.

Another very good group of matches between area rivals all ranked in the top seven in the first Herald-Mail poll. The Trojans are the team to beat, but the Blue Devils and Maidens both have legitimate shots at pulling off the upset.

· James Buchanan at McConnellsburg, Sept. 20.

This matchup has been right up there with the Smithsburg-Williamsport clashes over the past few years. The Spartans may be in rebuilding mode while the Rockets return a lot of their talent from 2003, but McConnellsburg will be up for this one at home.

· Martinsburg Invitational, Oct. 16.

A good chance to see all the Eastern Panhandle teams play against each other. Hedgesville once again is the team to beat here, at least among the local contingent.

· All games involving any combination of Broadfording, Grace Academy and Heritage Academy.

All three schools have solid programs worth seeing.

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