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Wildcats rally around Snodderly fort 3rd straight state crown

November 21, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - More than a few high school volleyball players would like to have Sammi Snodderly's off game.

As Williamsport's top attacking option - averaging an area-best four kills per game - it's a rare occurrence when Snodderly fails to stuff the stat sheet. Apparently, stats alone don't make her happy.

Snodderly had a match-high 11 kills in Saturday's Maryland Class 1A state championship, helping the Wildcats win their third straight title and 11th in school history with a convincing 25-16, 25-15, 25-14 victory over Elkton at Ritchie Coliseum.

Yet Snodderly was much quicker to give credit to her supporting cast - namely, Lacie Johnson (10 kills), Beth Ryan (seven kills, 13 assists) and Lea Drury (15 assists) - than herself.

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"She never plays well in her eyes," Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree said. "She's a perfectionist. She never thinks she plays well, and I tell her she needs to take the pressure off herself. Last year was bad, this year has been better."

With the departure of Lindsey Plotner and Staci Grabill - senior stars on last year's team - and as the only returning starter from that team, Snodderly had to take on a leadership role this season.

It's been a season-long process, and it hasn't been perfect, but whenever her teammates needed her, Snodderly has been there.

She was present and accounted for early Saturday, when her five kills in the first game helped Williamsport (18-1) race out to a 21-6 advantage.

"Coach always told me if I get down, everybody gets down," Snodderly said. "I love being a leader. Even if I had to fake a smile, I'd do it for the team."

"She is our barometer," Crabtree said, "and I mean the emotional, momentum side of it."

Once Snodderly established the Wildcats as front-runners Saturday, Johnson and Ryan helped Williamsport stay out in front until the final point.

Elkton (17-4) put up resistance in Game 2 behind the jump serving and hitting of 5-foot-3 senior Brittany Fleming (seven service points, five aces, four kills), who was a threat every time she touched - or more accurately, punished - the ball.

"She had an awesome serve," Snodderly said. "It was very scary."

Finally challenged, both Johnson and Ryan stepped up for the Wildcats.

Johnson blasted six kills in Game 2 as Williamsport erased a 13-13 tie by winning 12 of the final 14 points.

"Lacie picked it up," Snodderly said. "She's improved so much since last year. Her vertical's so high, she's only 5-foot-5, but she picked it up."

"Lacie, she was awesome tonight, and we needed that," Crabtree said.

Ryan - who played a pivotal role coming off the bench in the Wildcats' five-game thriller against Poolesville in last year's final - did it again, with three kills and six assists in Game 2 and three more kills in Game 3, in which Williamsport never trailed.

"I told them after Game 2, 'Elkton) is struggling and getting down,'" Crabtree said. "'Let's put it away and three-peat in three.' I think the girls felt it and were ready to win."

Ryan added a game-high 14 service points.

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