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'Cats just want to have fun, win

November 08, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - When dealing with the unknown, rely on something you know.

It's not exactly rocket science, but it works in volleyball circles ... just ask the Williamsport Wildcats.

Normal styles and tendencies went out the window for Williamsport when it faced Westmar on Monday in the Maryland Class 1A West quarterfinals. There was a very small comfort zone for the Wildcats in their 25-10, 25-4, 25-9 victory.

But at least there was one.

"We just played our game," said Williamsport senior Lacie Johnson. "It was kind of slow, so we had to play more like a team. ... And we had fun. That's why we play."

The Wildcats had to create their own fun against Westmar, an opponent with an unorthodox, slow-down style that kept Williamsport on its heels. Westmar bumped the ball around the court and tried to finesse itself into points, the total opposite of Williamsport's hound-'em, pound-'em style.

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"Western Maryland schools play a different style of volleyball," Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree said. "That's not being negative, but we aren't used to it. There are a lot of free balls and not much power. We are used to the power games like when we play Smithsburg."

There's more Western influence coming Williamsport's way, especially since the three-time defending state champions will be heading to Cumberland to face top-seeded Fort Hill on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Sentinels knocked off Smithsburg 3-2 on Monday.

For Williamsport, the quarterfinal should have been played in the school library. The surroundings were hushed, thanks to the cataloged style of play. In the end, Williamsport played by the book and threw it at Westmar.

In times of need, Johnson came up with the kill or the serving run to get Williamsport in sync. It rallied around the digs and setting of Lea Drury, but Johnson put Williamsport in forward motion.

"(Johnson) just played her game and didn't have a letdown," Crabtree said.

After falling behind 2-1 in Game 1, Emily Malott unleashed nine straight service points to help Williamsport establish a 10-2 lead. Johnson cemented the first-game win with four kills over the next 10 Williamsport points for a 20-7 lead.

Williamsport jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the second game, thanks to an eight-point run by Drury. Johnson followed with four straight points, including two on aces, for a 14-1 lead. Malott and Emily Hunt served out the game as Williamsport scored 11 of the last 12 points.

The final game started to go against Williamsport, which was lulled into a sleepwalk by Westmar's style. Johnson put down a kill to get Williamsport to within 6-3 and then served her team into a 6-6 tie. Sammi Snodderly served Williamsport to a 10-7 lead it didn't relinquish.

Williamsport closed out the match by scoring 15 of the last 17 points, including five straight by Ashley Plume, before Drury scored the last nine.

"We try to tell them to be aggressive and go after the ball, but in this match we were able to run some plays that we don't normally use," Crabtree said. "It was a hard match to get into."

Johnson finished with eight kills and six digs while Drury had six aces and 21 assists. Snodderly added seven kills and seven digs, while Plume had 14 digs and Malott had four kills and six aces in a match that was nothing more than a step in the right direction for Williamsport's title hopes.

"I was just trying to keep the game going, but in time, you end up messing up," Johnson said. "This was the quarterfinals to get us to the semifinals. It was just another step along the way."

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