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Liberty, McCracken play middle to put end to Rebels

November 06, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

SYKESVILLE, Md. -- Amanda McCracken turned in a tremendous effort Wednesday, leading No. 2-seed Liberty past No. 3-seed South Hagerstown 25-9, 24-26, 25-14, 25-7 in the Maryland Class 2A West volleyball semifinals.

McCracken was dominant from her middle hitter spot, finishing with 20 kills and five blocks as the Lions (14-2) eliminated the Rebels (11-6).

"She's been playing very well lately," Liberty coach Lauren Eberhardt said.

Kelly Vieira had 14 kills and Emily Reider added seven of Liberty's 15 aces.

South coach Chuck Weaver, whose team lost to Liberty in five games earlier this season, was confident entering the semifinal. But the Rebels showed little spark other than a tremendous run at the end of Game 2, when they overcame a 24-17 deficit with nine straight points.

"Our passing was off tonight, it just wasn't there, and poor passing meant we weren't setting up scoring opportunities," Weaver said. "I thought we would gain some confidence after that comeback in the second game, but Liberty bounced back."

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The Lions used a variety of hard and soft attacks in the middle to keep South's defense off balance.

"We'll use whatever it takes to win," Eberhardt said. "I figured this would be a tough match. When you reach this deep into the tournament, all games are tough."

Liberty is seeking its third state volleyball championship. The Lions won the Class 2A title in 2003 and 2004.

"We were 9-8 last year so we've really shown improvement," Eberhardt said. "We seem to play up to the competition. There's a lot riding on each match now. Overall, I was pleased with tonight's effort. I can't explain the end of the second game, they really rallied."

Megan Vance had 16 assists for the Rebels. Rebecca Pearl had 10 kills and seven service points, Morgan McCoy had six kills and Desiree Giffin added 12 digs and six service points.

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