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Rebels survive in five games

September 05, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SMITHSBURG - Both Smithsburg coach Rachel Bachtell and South Hagerstown coach Chuck Weaver walked out of the Leopards' gym feeling good about what they'd seen from their volleyball teams in the season opener Tuesday night.

In a tightly fought contest in which both teams showed flashes of brilliance, the Rebels won the first two games, then survived the Leopards' comeback by winning 10 of the last 11 points in Game 5 for a 25-16, 25-20, 19-25, 16-25, 15-10 victory.

"I felt we'd be OK no matter what happened," Weaver said. "We played great the first two games. I'm excited for this season because we're balanced."

"We're very young this year, but we're very promising," Bachtell said. "I've got to remember that they're young and will make some mistakes. I just want them to go out swinging."

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Trailing 9-5 in Game 5, Brittany Hyatt's kill gave serve to South, and Hyatt served up six straight points - including two aces - for a 12-9 lead.

Nikki Siefert's kill cut it to 12-10, but Sarah Burgan answered with a kill of her own for the Rebels. After a Smithsburg hitting error - the Leopards' ninth of the game - Rebecca Pearl ended the match with a heads-up kill of a loose ball at the net.

South used tough serving and the dual-threat play of Hyatt - not to mention Smithsburg's 23 errors - to win the first two games. The Rebels served 11 aces in the two games, and Hyatt's five kills early in Game 2 carried South to a 13-5 lead. Pearl had three kills and three aces in Game 1, and Burgan had four assists in Game 2.

"This is the first time in three years I've felt comfortable having someone set the ball out to (Hyatt)," Weaver said.

Smithsburg used a 9-1 run to take a 13-6 lead on the way to victory in a choppy Game 3 - the teams combined for 21 errors. Colleen Black had three blocks and Siefert and Sarah Rishell each added two.

The Leopards really turned it up a notch in Game 4. Siefert, Black and Rishell each had three kills, Rishell added two blocks and Valerie Smith had eight assists in the game.

"What excites me is we got beat pretty bad the first two games, and they had a choice to either go home or battle back, and they battled back," Bachtell said. "The fifth game could have gone either way. ... The ball didn't fall our way."

"Two things happened - Smithsburg got their court feet and got the jitters out, and they outlasted us in this heat," Weaver said, referring to the stifling conditions in Smithsburg's gym. "We started to break down."

Hyatt finished with nine kills and seven assists, while Burgan dished out 11 assists for the Rebels. Mar'ke Cosley had four kills and two blocks, and Pearl had five kills.

Siefert had 10 kills and Rishell and Black each finished with nine, while Smith racked up 28 assists for the Leopards.

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