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Antietam title goes to 'Cats

October 25, 2006|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG - The Williamsport Wildcats' volleyball team knew that it was better than its 5-4 mid-season record indicated.

Williamsport proved it by putting together a six-match winning streak to end the regular season with an 11-4 record.

The No. 3 Wildcats also finished with a 7-0 conference mark as they clinched the regular-season championship in the MVAL Antietam during the final match Tuesday night by defeating the Smithsburg Leopards, 25-19, 26-28, 25-11, 25-17.

"We talked about it at the beginning of the season that hard work pays off," Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree said. "Williamsport hasn't won state championships without hard work. It feels pretty good to come back at the end of the season. I think our passing game has improved a great deal, which definitely helps the rest of our game."

Crabtree attributed other factors to Williamsport's success.

"It is also good to know that we have several good hitters, and we can mix it up," Crabtree said. "We have different options. Another key to our success has been our serving game. You can't afford to give up any points at this point of the season."

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Junior Christine Barnes contributed 19 assists, 10 service points and four aces for the Wildcats.

"I am very happy with the way that our team has played as a whole," Barnes said. "We have been able to beat our biggest rivals, North and Boonsboro, this year. Passing has definitely been the key to our team's success. That is why we have played as well as we have. Our passes have been there."

Jessica Bennett had 12 digs, 11 service points and 10 kills, while Lindsey Kneisley added 13 assists and 10 service points for the Wildcats. Hailee Growden had 19 digs, eight kills and four aces, while Brittany Malott had 15 digs, Jessica Ellis added 10 digs and Brittany Horn made nine kills for the Wildcats.

Valerie Smith had 26 assists and 12 service points, while Casey Lowe had 18 digs for Smithsburg (4-10, 3-4). Jenny Nalley added 14 digs and 10 kills, while Nikki Seifert had 11 kills for the Leopards.

"Williamsport is a very good team," Smithsburg coach Rachel Bachtell said. "We came out flat and you can't do that against a team with that kind of caliber. Volleyball is a game of momentum and tonight we just couldn't get in the groove. We would make a big play and then we would turn around and give up three or four points."

The Wildcats started off great in the first game by receiving a point on a sideout and then getting seven straight service points by Barnes to take an 8-0 lead.

"My serves weren't on at the beginning of the year," Barnes said. "But now, I have been able to get my serves over during conference play. The coach just tells me to get my serves up and over to get them in play. It doesn't have to be an ace every time."

The Williamsport JV team swept Smithsburg 25-21, 25-21 to finish with a 12-3 record.

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