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North's 2A West dreams dashed

November 13, 2004|by CURT HORNBECKER/Staff Correspondent

ELDERSBURG, Md. - As the tape holding the banner encouraging the North Hagerstown volleyball team began to lose its grip, one corner slowly dropped toward the bleachers before being rescued by a Hubs fan.

When the Hubs themselves fell, they fell much harder and no one could rescue them.

The third-seeded Hubs were pounded 25-8, 25-9, 25-20 by top-seeded Liberty - the defending state champion - in the Class 2A West finals Friday night.

The win pushed the tall, athletic Lions (17-0) to their 36th straight victory over the last two seasons (not counting a loss to Boonsboro in the Thomas Johnson tournament earlier this season).

"We knew they were going to be tough," said Hubs coach Corry Eagler. "We were told Liberty was a tough gym to come play in. The fans, the noise, just the whole atmosphere; they are used to that."

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"We knew we were going to have to play our best volleyball of the year to beat them."

Unfortunately for the Hubs (16-3), it was Liberty that played its best game of the season to sweep North for the second time, the first coming on Sept. 20.

"We didn't think we were going to beat them like that," said Lions coach David Trumbo. "They have a much better team than we saw tonight.

"After winning the state championship last year and having most of those players return, we were wondering if there was that much room to get better. But we've gotten a lot better."

A combination of thunderous kills from Meghan McConville and Stacey Krebs, 11 straight service points from Whitney Miller and numerous Hubs errors sparked Liberty to a 15-1 advantage to start Game 1.

Kristen Steinnagel took over at the net in the second game, pacing the Lions to a 21-6 lead.

In the first two games, Hubs errors accounted for 24 Liberty points. Conversely, Liberty gave away just eight points, six on service errors.

North managed to keep things relatively close in Game 3 behind the net play of Kierra Nelson and Kaitlin Zimmer and the defensive work of Tracy Hinkle, Brooke Ward and Ariel Kifer. A Steph Horchner ace pulled the Hubs to within 16-13 before five unanswered Lions points clinched the region title.

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