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Volleyball notes

TJ Invitational to test area's best teams

TJ Invitational to test area's best teams

September 30, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Thomas Johnson coach Jim Dorsch loves to put his Patriots through the wringer that is, without question, the most difficult nonconference schedule any area team plays.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that Dorsch organizes his Thomas Johnson Ivitational tournament the exact same way.

"That's what I intended," Dorsch said Wednesday. "This was the third year I've had (the tournament), and my intention was to make it as strong as I could and make it a real competitive tournament, and I think we've done it."

No need to think about it, Coach. You did it.

On Saturday, 15 teams will make the No. 2 Patriots' gym home for a few hours, and they're not just any 15 teams. Included in the festivities are Washington County powerhouses No. 1 Boonsboro, No. 5 Williamsport and No. 10 Smithsburg, as well as defending Class 2A state champion Liberty and a host of teams from outside our area that all sport 5-1 or 4-1 records.

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"When I put this together and talked to some coaches before I started, they said this is exactly what they wanted as well," Dorsch said. "Broadneck, the 4A champs, wanted to get in as well, but it was too late. (The tournament is) getting a reputation and it's getting stronger."

Not to be missed are the two pool-play games between Boonsboro and TJ. The Warriors handed the Patriots their only loss in both teams' first match of the season on Sept. 6, and the top two teams in the area are sure to be fired up.

"Any time we're able to play competition like the kind we'll see Saturday, our girls have no problem playing with energy against that kind of competition," Boonsboro coach Christy Faller said.

Williamsport, Smithsburg and Liberty are all in the same pool as well, making for some compelling matchups - especially since only two of the five teams in each of three pools will advance to the elimination rounds.

What to watch this week

  • No. 9 South Hagerstown at No. 10 Smithsburg, Monday - While Boonsboro and Williamsport are at the top of the MVAL Antietam class at the moment, this is an interesting matchup between teams looking to take that next step up.

  • No. 3 Greencastle at No. 4 Chambersburg, Monday - This is the best matchup between Pennsylvania schools in our area this year, and certainly the toughest test the Blue Devils will face in the regular season. If Greencastle isn't sharp, the Trojans will give the Devils their due.

  • No. 6 Musselman at No. 8 Hedgesville, Tuesday - This rubber match is the best the Eastern Panhandle has to offer. The Applemen became legitimate regional title contenders when they defeated the Eagles in five games on Sept. 6. Last weekend, Hedgesville responded by defeating Musselman in the Apple Valley League Tournament championship match, setting the stage for this one.

  • Grace Academy at Broadfording, Tuesday - These two small, private Christian schools play some awfully good volleyball - especially the Lions, who are undefeated in nontournament play and finished second (ahead of Greencastle, which Broadfording never played) at the McConnellsburg tournament.

  • Mercersburg Academy at No. 7 James Buchanan, Wednesday - The Blue Storm have performed well so far this season, and a matchup with the Rockets gives them a chance to make a case for themselves as a top-10 team.
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