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Volleyball notes - Musselman is Panhandle's new power

September 16, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

For now, there's a new queen sitting on the Eastern Panhandle volleyball throne.

No. 6 Musselman defeated perennial power No. 9 Hedgesville in five tough games on Sept. 6, providing the Applemen program a huge boost of confidence.

"In the history of Musselman volleyball, they dominated us," Applemen coach Shawn Martz said. "So to get over that mental hump and get the monkey off our back was big for our girls."

Musselman also dispatched Notre Dame Academy - another Apple Valley League powerhouse - in five games last Friday, staying unbeaten in nontournament matches.

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Musselman returns five starters from last year's team, which won its sectional tournament, finished second to Hedgesville in the regionals and made an appearance at the state tournament.

The depth is especially noticeable on the front line, where senior Sarah DeYoung, juniors Megan Holmes and Stephanie Wood and sophomore Katie Kees are all averaging more than 1.75 kills per game. Six-footer Molly Grove gives Martz yet another front-line weapon to utilize.

"We really have five talented hitters," Martz said. "It kind of makes for a good problem as a coach trying to find playing time for all of them."

Running the show is sophomore Chelsea Wheaton, who is averaging more than eight assists per game and also proving she's a threat from the service line, with 23 aces in 19 games.

"This is her first year on the varsity, but she started in youth leagues when she was probably eight and has been playing club ball for five or six years, so she has a lot of experience," Martz said.

There's more - arguably the most talented player on the team, Alyse Custer, has been out with an ankle injury. Her return will only make Musselman stronger as it faces better opposition down the road.

"We have some big challenges coming up," Martz said. "There's the conference tournaments, and the Martinsburg Invitational is a big gauge for us. Some of the best teams in the state are at that tournament every year. That's what we're looking at, to see how we're going to fare state-wise."

What to watch this week



- McConnellsburg at No. 10 James Buchanan, Monday - These are traditionally two of the stronger teams in the Tri-State area. Both teams are 3-1, with No. 2 Greencastle holding a three-game sweep over each. This one could easily go five games.

- No. 1 Boonsboro at No. 7 Smithsburg, Tuesday - The Leopards know what it's like to be the top dogs, though it's been a couple years since they last were there. Smithsburg would like nothing more than a victory over the Warriors.

- No. 1 Boonsboro at No. 8 South Hagerstown, Thursday - Nothing like facing two tough county rivals in the span of three days. Such is life for the Warriors, who will have to fend off the challenge from a Rebels squad that has steadily improved over the last two years.

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