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Blazers make Leopards fight for first-round victory

November 05, 2005|By DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - Though it looked like a mismatch on paper - and ultimately on the scoreboard - Clear Spring's young volleyball squad made Smithsburg work for a Maryland Class 1A West first-round playoff victory Friday night.

So the Leopards went to work and worked over the Blazers. With Kayla Martin leading the show and setting up all of Smithsburg's weapons, the Leopards had too much talent and eliminated Clear Spring, 25-18, 25-10, 25-18.

While Smithsburg (11-4) advanced to face top-seeded Fort Hill in Cumberland, Md., in Monday's regional quarterfinals, Clear Spring (3-12) earned some respect from Leopards coach Rachel Bachtell by playing Smithsburg tough. The Leopards needed two Casey Lowe serving runs - one of six points in Game 1 to expand a 16-15 lead, the other consisting of eight points in Game 3 to erase a 14-12 deficit.

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"Clear Spring came out swinging," Bachtell said. "Those girls came out and were scrappy, started serving well and gave us a fight."

"I was very pleased with the effort the girls gave," Blazers coach Robin Papa said. "It's a very young team, and we're looking forward to next year."

Smithsburg still has visions of a playoff run this year, and Martin led the charge through the first obstacle. She had 10 assists in Game 1, setting up Kenzie Bowen (five kills), Jenny Nalley (five kills) and Molly Powell (three kills) with similar spectacular results.

It was more of the same for Martin in Game 2, as she racked up nine assists. Nalley (five kills), Lowe (three kills), Bowen and Teonna Jewell (two kills each) were the beneficiaries this time.

"She did a nice job distributing the ball, which makes us a little less predictable," Bachtell said. "(Coach) Rose (Powell) and I didn't even know where the ball was going sometimes. ... Kayla has great court sense. Her tip worked in the middle of the court as well. She executed."

Lowe finished off Clear Spring with her eight-point run in Game 3. She finished with 22 service points, including five aces. Martin had 23 total assists, Nalley had 10 kills and Bowen nine.

Lynsee Vincent had six kills, three in the early stages of Game 3 to help Clear Spring take the lead. Mandy Jenkins had seven service points and six digs.

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