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Leopards earn share of Antietam title

October 22, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

BOONSBORO -- The Smithsburg volleyball players must have been well behaved during childhood.

To this day, they don't mind sharing.

The Leopards outlasted Boonsboro in four games Tuesday night to wedge into a three-way share for the MVAL Antietam title. The Leopards won 25-19, 23-25, 25-13, 25-11 to improve their conference record to 4-1, joining Williamsport and Clear Spring with a slice of the title.

The Leopards (9-4) won their final three conference games, including a sweep of Williamsport that snapped the Wildcats' 10-match winning streak.

"It was big for the girls tonight because they want to be the best of the best," said Smithsburg coach Rachel Brashear. "We had a goal at the beginning of the season to avenge every loss we had last year. We didn't quite do that, but we clinched a three-way tie for the MVAL Antietam, and that's something."

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By beating the Warriors on Tuesday, Smithsburg avenged one of its losses from last season. Sophomore setter Taylor Belella directed the attack with 45 assists to five different hitters.

Nikki Siefert and Colleen Black each had 13 kills, Sara Rishell had 12 and Allyn Saling chipped in with six for the Leopards (9-4).

"I just know that I can set anybody," said Belella, who also had 13 digs. "We have consistent hitters and the passing to get the job done."

Smithsburg coasted in the first game behind Siefert's four kills and a pair of aces by Meghan McSherry. The Leopards stumbled through 14 ties in the second game, and their 11th error evened the score at 23-23.

Alison Griffith got back-to-back aces as Boonsboro evened the match at a game apiece.

"(Riding that momentum) was the goal," said Warriors coach Andrea Parry. "That's what we felt would happen, but then Smithsburg fired off a couple of rallies and our girls just shut down."

Any emotion gained by the Warriors (4-8, 1-4) from the second game disappeared quickly as Smithsburg raced out to a 16-4 lead in Game 3. Boonsboro fared no better in the decisive fourth game, falling behind, 7-1. Later, Black served nine straight points for a 23-10 Smithsburg lead. Two serves later, the Leopards won the match on the 34th Boonsboro error.

"I don't come out and expect to beat Boonsboro like that, but I'd like that to be the expectation," Brashear said. "We have a lot of improving to do before the playoffs, but I think we're in a good spot. It's going to be an exciting race."

Both the Leopards and Warriors have one last tune-up before the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs begin next week. A rematch isn't out of the picture.

"We were out of contention for the MVAL," Parry said. "Now we have to look ahead to the region draw and the playoffs."

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