Leopards good, Warriors better

October 13, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

BOONSBORO - Two days removed from being swept at home by No. 2 Williamsport, No. 9 Smithsburg traveled to No. 3 Boonsboro and gave the Warriors everything they could handle.

It wasn't quite enough.

The Warriors fended off two game points in pulling out an epic first game, then raised their game a notch against the inspired Leopards in Games 2 and 4 for a 31-29, 25-16, 26-28, 25-15 MVAL Antietam victory.

Behind seven kills by Kenzie Bowen and four by Jenny Nalley, Smithsburg (7-4, 2-2) held leads of 24-23 and 26-25 in Game 1. But kills by Kasi Harris and Tara Garver saved the game for Boonsboro (8-1, 2-0), and two hitting errors by the Leopards gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead.


"(Those two kills) were huge," Boonsboro coach Christy Faller said. "In a close game like that, you have to stay aggressive, and that's how our team plays."

"I think Game 1 was a pivotal moment in this match," Smithsburg coach Rachel Bachtell said. "This was great volleyball. I don't think I'd seen a game go to 31 all year. ... A couple points didn't go our way."

With the Leopards hitting on all cylinders, the Warriors had to raise their game to another level, which they did in Game 2. Jessica Ambrose had four kills, Harris and Garver had three kills each and Boonsboro allowed Smithsburg only six kills as the defense tightened up.

But the Leopards - who won the first game before wilting under a multitude of errors in a 3-1 loss against the Warriors on Sept. 20 - kept it together this time and came roaring back in Game 3, rolling out to an 18-8 lead, with Kenzie Bowen leading the charge. Bowen finished with 18 kills and 26 digs.

"We let up a little in Game 2, but we showed a lot of heart to come back in Game 3," Bachtell said. "(Kenzie) was hitting, she was digging, she's the heart and soul of our team. She has a never-say-die attitude."

So do the Warriors, who rallied behind Garver's right arm. Six of Garver's eight kills in Game 3 came as Boonsboro turned the 10-point deficit into a 22-21 lead. Garver finished with a game-high 20 kills.

"We had a lot of energy on the court and we were just ready," Garver said.

But this time Smithsburg survived two game points on Boonsboro errors, and kills by Teonna Jewell and Bowen ended the third game.

To its credit, Boonsboro again raised its game when necessary, using the same formula as in Game 2 - balanced offense, hard-nosed defense - to finish off the Leopards. Garver, Harris, Ambrose and Lia VanCleave all had multiple kills in the game.

"Ambrose, Harris, (Kim) Snavely, they were all hitting hard and swinging aggressively," Faller said. "We're not a team that's going to take hits, we're going to give hits. We don't rely on one player, we use the entire court very well."

Harris had 13 kills, 10 blocks and 15 digs for the Warriors. Ambrose had 29 assists, 19 digs and eight kills, VanCleave had 18 assists and Alyssa Lum added 13 digs.

Kayla Martin had 24 assists and eight aces for the Leopards. Molly Powell had 14 digs, Casey Lowe had 10 digs and Nalley had 10 kills.

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