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Parry, Crawford guide teams to finals

December 15, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Success isn't just a destination. It's also how you get there.

And while Boonsboro coach Andrea Parry and North Hagerstown coach Megan Crawford surely envisioned better endings to their teams' runs to the Maryland state finals, the runs themselves made the Warriors' and Hubs' seasons great successes.

Parry and Crawford are The Herald-Mail's 2007 All-Area and Washington County Volleyball Co-Coaches of the Year.

Boonsboro reached the Class 1A state final for the first time since 1984, capping a thrilling playoff run through 1A West in which the Warriors stunned top-seed Poolesville in the semifinals and long-time nemesis Williamsport in an unforgettable five-game final.

The Wildcats had eliminated Boonsboro from the playoffs in three of the previous four years and defeated the Warriors in five games in each of two regular-season meetings.

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"The excitement from the Wiliamsport game, I was on the edge of my seat, I wanted the girls to win so bad," Parry said. "We knew we had them on the edge in the regular season. ... It's such a rewarding experience. It's a different experience when you're coaching, but even though you're not on the floor, you still jump out of your seat."

Boonsboro bottomed out at 6-4 before winning seven straight matches to reach the state final. Parry pointed to a four-game victory over Smithsburg on Oct. 23 - the last game the Warriors played before the playoffs - as a turning point.

"We sat down mid-game and gave them a poem that said, 'There's no 'I' in 'Team' but there is 'Me' in 'Team.'" Parry said. "Our biggest goal was pulling everyone together as a team because if we wanted to achieve our goals, we had to do it as a team and not as individuals.

"The Smithsburg match, the fourth game went back and forth and we finally won 32-30, and that was a turning point because you could see we were working together. We'd get flustered, but we stayed together and pulled through, and I knew if we wanted to win the region, that was the confidence we needed."

Crawford's challenge was simple in theory but difficult in execution. The Hubs' two leaders - senior middle hitter Kate Zimmer and senior setter Hannah Boward - could only be as good as the defense behind them.

For much of the season, it was a work in progress - even though North battled through it and kept winning. The Hubs' only loss in the regular season came against Williamsport, but they were pushed to five games on five occasions.

"We had pretty much three defensive specialists playing most of the game," Crawford said. "They realized in order for us to put the ball down, they'd have to dig it up. They knew we wouldn't have a block, so they had to fill the holes, and that's the only way we could win.

"They had to be able to read the hitter and not always be guessing. After doing that and having those instincts of just getting there and realizing you don't always have to be in a set spot, about midway through the season, they got it. That was a very big part of our success this year was our defense, and it wasn't always the prettiest, but they got the ball up."

The Hubs' last two victories - a five-game triumph over a tough Middletown squad in the 2A West final, and a four-game win over River Hill and University of Maryland recruit Maddi Lee in the state semifinals - showed how far North had come in two short months.

"I didn't think we'd do as well as we did. I figured we'd have some bumps in the road, and we did," Crawford said. "It always seemed we'd start out strong each match and then lose our focus and have to turn it on at the end. (But) we gained some confidence and they realized they were a good team and they could play with anybody."

The Herald-Mail's All-County First Team

· Hannah Boward, North Hagerstown, Sr., setter - MVAL Piedmont first-team selection averaged 7.43 assists per game and had more than 1,000 in her prep career.

· Cayla Broadwater, Williamsport, Jr., middle hitter - She averaged 2.82 kills and 1.30 blocks, and was selected to the MVAL Antietam first team.

· Danielle DuBois, Broadfording, So., defensive specialist - Mason Dixon Christian Conference first-team selection led the county with 5.40 digs per game as the Lions won the Maryland Christian Schools Tournament title.

· Katie Gantz, Boonsboro, Sr., middle hitter - MVAL Antietam first-team selection averaged 2.24 kills, 0.53 blocks and 2.16 digs per game.

· Tara Garver, Boonsboro, Sr., setter - She did it all for the Warriors, averaging 2.26 kills, 4.66 assists and 1.36 digs per game and racking up 74 aces.

· Hailee Growden, Williamsport, Sr., outside hitter - She averaged 2.01 kills and 3.32 digs per game and was an MVAL Antietam first-team honoree.

· Heather Lowery, St. James, Sr., middle hitter - She did it all for the Saints, averaging 2.63 kills, 0.69 blocks and 3.61 digs per game.

· Rebecca Morgan, Grace Academy, Sr., outside hitter - The Mason Dixon Christian Conference MVP averaged 4.80 kills per game for the Knights.

· Callan Spicher, St. James, So., outside hitter - Proved to be a capable sidekick for Lowery, averaging 2.70 kills and 3.30 digs per game.

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