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Experience has Hubs eyeing MVAL Antietam title

September 29, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Few first-year coaches walk into as promising a situation as North Hagerstown's Megan Crawford did.

The Hubs returned boatloads of experience in the form of seniors Brooke Powell, Kierra Nelson and Kelly Toms and juniors Kate Zimmer and Hannah Boward, and it's all coming together to make North an MVAL Antietam front-runner.

"They're playing hard and they're giving effort daily in practice," Crawford said. "Brooke, Kelly, Kierra, all three seniors take charge out there and use their leadership. They're playing well right now, they're passing well and we're able to run our offense."

The Hubs' headliner is Zimmer, a 6-foot-3 middle hitter who, barring a change of heart, will play for the University of Maryland after her prep career runs its course. Her presence at the net is unmatched in the area, and her defensive skills are getting better.

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"She's playing well right now," Crawford said. "She's hitting well and finding her spots. We're working on her overall game and it's coming together."

Outside hitters Powell and Toms and middle hitter Nelson give the Hubs more offensive depth then they've had in years, keeping opposing defenses off balance.

With all the weapons on the court, the job of making it all work falls on Boward and junior Karli Powers, who run the 4-2 offense together.

"It's Karli's first year setting and she's picking up the system pretty well," Crawford said. "Her confidence is growing. With Hannah running the 5-1 last year and the experience she got, it helps a great deal."

North's only loss came in three games against Liberty - Maryland Class 2A state champ in 2003 and '04 and state runner-up last year - in the season opener. The Hubs beat Greencastle in the final of the McConnellsburg Tournament and also defeated Boonsboro in a five-game thriller.

North has two more key matches next week, hosting Williamsport on Tuesday before traveling to Boonsboro for a rematch with the Warriors on Thursday.

"We just need to play our game," Crawford said. "The girls need to stay motivated and keep their intensity."

Games to watch this week



No. 6 Chambersburg (6-2) at No. 5 James Buchanan (6-1), Monday - A matchup that could go either way. The Trojans, who have battled injuries for most of the season, are fully healthy now. A win would be a major feather in the cap of the Rockets.

No. 4 Greencastle (8-1) at Waynesboro (3-4), Monday - The Blue Devils hold victories over both Chambersburg and James Buchanan this season and will be favored here, but the Maidens have enough talent to make this a tough match.

No. 3 Williamsport (5-2) at No. 2 North Hagerstown (6-1), Tuesday - It won't count in the MVAL Antietam standings, but don't expect the Hubs and Wildcats to go at it any less passionately because of that. This is a statement game for both teams.

No. 7 Hedgesville (5-1) at No. 1 Musselman (8-0), Tuesday - Recent history suggests the Applemen are just too good. They've won the last four meetings with the Eagles, including a three-game sweep earlier this season, and have their eyes set firmly on a state title. But in rivalry games, anything can happen.

North Hagerstown at Boonsboro (4-2), Thursday - The Hubs needed five games to get past the Warriors in the first meeting this season, and won't have an easy time doing it again on the road - and this one counts in the league standings.

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