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Three-part harmony

Boonsboro trio gives HCC the beat with pass, set, spike

Boonsboro trio gives HCC the beat with pass, set, spike

September 27, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

The serve came to Kim Snavely, who bumped the ball to Jessica Ambrose, who lofted a set high in the air to the left side of the net, where a leap and a quick swing of Caitlyn Selby's right arm pounded the ball into the opponent's court.

Point, Hagerstown Community College.

If it seems like they've been doing it for years, it's because they have.

The Hawks' sophomore trio - all graduates of Boonsboro High School - brings an element to HCC most other college teams simply do not have.

"It's a comfort level between passer, setter and hitter," Selby said. "It can't get better than that."

From 2003 through 2005 - the three years Snavely, Ambrose and Selby were all on Boonsboro's varsity - the Warriors went 46-7. In their time at HCC, the Hawks - ranked seventh in NJCAA Division II - are 51-13, including 19-1 this season.

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"It helps whenever you have so much experience playing together, and when you get to this level, it's fun to grow together," said Ambrose, whose role as the Hawks' only experienced setter makes her HCC's maestro.

Ambrose leads Division II with 12.01 assists per game through Monday.

"Her setting this year has improved tremendously, and some of it is because of the hitters she has," HCC coach Beth Domenico said. "She's in demand, she's our only true setter. I have never seen a player run herself so ragged running after each ball. Her work ethic is unreal. She doesn't have anyone breathing down her neck this year and she's still working just as hard."

"Without (Jess), what would we do?" Selby said. "The passers wouldn't have anyone to pass to, and the hitters wouldn't have anyone setting them up. It'd be chaos."

Snavely - whose 4.59 digs per games ranks 34th nationally - does the dirty work as the Hawks' top defensive specialist. The job doesn't lead to the spotlight or make her a regular name in headlines, but her teammates and coaches know how valuable she is.

"A coach (at the Kellogg Tournament) said we had one of the toughest defenses he'd seen in a long time," Domenico said. "That's all Kim. She even played the end of that tournament with a hurt foot, and she still gave it her all. She was unreal. She was digging balls I thought for sure would get down. She has been nothing but a trooper, just a real hard worker."

In 2002, Snavely and Ambrose were part of the Washington County Cyclones under-14 team - coached by current South Hagerstown coach Chuck Weaver - that won the Chesapeake Regional title to play in the national tournament in Utah.

"Jess and I have played together since eighth grade and we know exactly what we're going to do," Snavely said. "We can read each other's minds."

Selby missed several matches this season with a knee injury but has returned to the lineup in the last two weeks, averaging about two kills per game.

"She has come back off this injury much better than I expected," Domenico said.

The Hawks have garnered national recognition and respect this season, and the experience of the Boonsboro trio is a major reason why.

"As coaches, we take that for granted," Domenico said. "We don't realize how long they have played together and how much better they are because of that."

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