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Right from wrong

Negatives become positives as 'Cats win 4th straight state title

Negatives become positives as 'Cats win 4th straight state title

November 19, 2005|By DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Williamsport volleyball coach Emily Crabtree needed every motivational trick in her bag to get the Wildcats past annual state-tournament nemesis Poolesville in Friday night's Class 1A final.

They worked.

Williamsport had to battle from behind in the first and third games, but the Wildcats' overall depth, talent and determination eventually prevailed 25-23, 25-21, 26-24, giving the school its fourth straight state title and 12th overall, tying Centennial for the most all-time.

Describing how the Wildcats (16-3) did it is a difficult task - just as playing the pesky Falcons (15-3) proved to be. Undeterred, Williamsport defeated Poolesville in the state final for the third time in four years, including a five-game epic in 2003. The Wildcats also eliminated the Falcons in the state semifinals last year.

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The 2005 Falcons played identical to their Poolesville predecessors - using their height to their advantage, playing tough defense both at the net and in the back row, and showing a never-say-die attitude that made every point difficult to earn.

"(We) were able to finish against a tough Poolesville team, and that makes it more special, to beat a good team in the process," Crabtree said. "To be down late in two games and come back was fun to watch."

So, just how did Williamsport do it? Maybe it all came down to Crabtree knowing which buttons to push.

"When we're down, Coach tells us we look like we don't want to win, and we show her," said Sammi Snodderly, one of two seniors, along with Lacie Johnson, who will graduate from high school with three championships. "She motivates us so much just by the (critical) things she says. We want to prove her wrong."

"I try to find something to get under their skin and fire them up," Crabtree said. "I feel I know these girls, how they think and how they approach the game. We work well together."

Or maybe it has more to do with how well the players worked together. There were no superstars on the stat sheet on Friday - well, maybe one, as Inge Rasmussen carried Poolesville with 16 kills, by far the most by any player in the match - but every Wildcat who played had a shining moment.

Defensive specialist Ashley Plume, whose contributions often go unnoticed, sparked Williamsport from the service line twice in Game 1. Her five-point run early gave the Wildcats a 12-9 lead, and later her three-point run gave them game point at 24-22. Moments later, Johnson's sixth kill of the game gave Williamsport a 1-0 lead.

"I was just looking for empty spots, anything to get a point and keep the ball on our side," said Plume, who finished with 13 service points and 10 digs.

Behind another three-point run by Plume - including her only two aces - the Wildcats claimed a 14-8 lead in Game 2. Poolesville cut the lead to two twice, using a four-point run to make it 23-21, but a service error gave Williamsport game point, and Johnson finished it again.

An eight-point run gave the Falcons a 22-18 lead in Game 3, but kills by Emily Malott, Snodderly and Lauren Brown closed the deficit. Williamsport caught a break when Poolesville, serving for the game at 24-23, made an error.

Brown's block on the next point gave Williamsport match point, and Snodderly ended it with a deep serve that Poolesville could not control, allowing Snodderly and the rest of the Wildcats to leap for joy yet again.

"I knew it was (match) point, I served it and ended it and I didn't know what to do, so I just started jumping up and down," Snodderly said.

Snodderly and Johnson tied for the team lead with nine kills each, while Snodderly had 18 digs and Johnson 14 for Williamsport. Brown and Malott had five kills each, Lea Drury had 25 assists and Jessica Bennett had seven digs.

"It was a team effort," Crabtree said. "I can't say any one player won it for us. All seven of them (who played) won it."

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