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Graduations make MVAL Antietam up for grabs

September 15, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

The volleyball fortunes, they could be a changin' in Washington County.

OK, it's never a good idea to bet against Williamsport, especially come November. But suffice to say, the top three teams in the MVAL Antietam last year - the Wildcats (who actually finished third), Smithsburg and conference champion Boonsboro - all face significant challenges due to the loss of some serious talent.

Williamsport lost 2005 Herald-Mail Player of the Year Sammi Snodderly and All-Area First Team member Lacie Johnson to graduation, and also bid adieu to two All-County Second Team members in Lea Drury and Emily Malott.

Boonsboro lost three-time All-Area First Team member Jessica Ambrose, as well as All-County First Team members Kasi Harris and Kim Snavely. Smithsburg, which stunned Williamsport to take second in the conference last year, lost All-Area First Team member Kenzie Bowen and All-County Second Team member Kayla Martin.

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So what does that mean for the rest of this season?

For one, it leaves North Hagerstown in an enviable position, as the Hubs return all of their key pieces from 2005 - All-Area First Team member and University of Maryland-bound Kate Zimmer, and All-County Second Team members Kierra Nelson and Brooke Powell.

North won the McConnellsburg Lady Spartan tournament title earlier this season, edging a solid Greencastle squad in the final. The Hubs also won a tough five-game match over Boonsboro this season, though it does not count in the conference standings - the two teams play again later this season, and when two conference teams play twice in the regular season, the second meeting counts.

South Hagerstown has All-County First Team member Brittany Hyatt and All-County Second Team member Chelsea Weaver back.

And Clear Spring - which was not represented on either of the All-County teams in 2005 - won the St. James Tournament earlier this season, including a quality victory over Berkeley Springs.

Boonsboro and Smithsburg do return one All-County Second Team member back each - Tara Garver for the Warriors, Jenny Nalley for the Leopards. All in all, things should be rather interesting in the MVAL Antietam.

Games to watch

Cumberland Valley Christian (5-0) at McConnellsburg (3-1), Monday - CVCS needed four games to hand the Spartans their only loss of the season; McConnellsburg gets a chance for redemption on its home court.

Smithsburg (0-2) at Boonsboro (1-2) and South Hagerstown (0-1) at No. 3 North Hagerstown (2-1), Tuesday - Neither of these matches will count toward the MVAL Antietam standings, but they'll both help shed light on what to expect, and they're both rivalry matchups, which should ratchet the intensity up a notch.

No. 5 James Buchanan (3-0) at No. 4 Greencastle (4-0), Tuesday - Speaking of rivalry matchups, none in the area is likely to be better than this one this season.

Clear Spring (1-0) at Smithsburg and South Hagerstown at Boonsboro, Thursday - Same deal as Tuesday's Leopards-Warriors and Rebels-Hubs matchups; these won't count toward the conference standings but will give a good idea where every team stands.

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