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Volleyball notes - Leopards turn back clock with win

October 28, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

In the late 1990s, when the Smithsburg-Williamsport rivalry was at its apex and the two schools battled year in and year out to determine which school would lay claim to that year's Maryland Class 1A state title, Rachel Bachtell was in the middle of it all as an outside hitter for the Leopards.

Now, Bachtell finds herself leading Smithsburg's program ... and on Tuesday, she led them to a victory reminiscent of the glory days of old.

In a match that determined second place in the MVAL Antietam, the No. 6 Leopards went on the road and bounced back from a horrendous start to stun the No. 5 Wildcats 10-25, 25-23, 32-30, 25-18 and serve notice that they'll have to be taken seriously in the 1A West region.

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"(There was) excellent defense, hitters mixing their shots, (kill attempts) down the line and at a hard angle. It was an exciting match," Bachtell said. "I don't know what was more exciting, me playing in the rivalry or me coaching in it. You could see the excitement in the crowd.

"That win gave us a little more respect. Boonsboro and Williamsport have had a good rivalry, but the Williamsport-Smithsburg rivalry goes back 10, 15 years, so it was nice for us to get a win and maybe rekindle it."

Ten minutes into the match, though, things didn't look good for the Leopards.

"I gave them an ultimatum," said Bachtell. "Either we lay down, or you need to earn a little respect back."

The Leopards chose the latter option, rolled up their sleeves and battled Williamsport in a pair of classic games. They won the key points late in both Games 2 and 3 to go from trailing 1-0 and looking bad in the process, to leading and suddenly becoming energized.

"The third game was unbelievable. We were in a game like that against Boonsboro in the pivotal game and we lost that game," Bachtell said, referring to a 31-29 loss in Game 1 against the No. 1 Warriors that led to a 3-1 defeat on Oct. 12.

"We played a couple close games with Boonsboro and that was the beginning of our peaking. Hopefully we can take this win and carry it into the playoffs. It was a great time for a win like that."

Smithsburg won in large part because they spread the wealth around, with every player having a part in the Leopards' biggest win in three years. Kenzie Bowen had 12 kills, Jenny Nalley and Teonna Jewell each had 10 kills, Kayla Martin had 33 assists as she ran the attack effectively, Molly Powell had seven kills and Casey Lowe had 16 digs.

"There wasn't one superstar, it was just a team effort," Bachtell said. "It wasn't like we were carried by just one person. ... I think our defense stepped up. Williamsport has some hard hitters like they always do, and they got their kills, but we were digging some balls up all over the court. Our girls wanted it and they showed a lot of heart and determination after suffering through that first game."

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