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VARSITY NOTES:

Smithsburg's Sprecher doing all right with her left

September 24, 2010

Prep Volleyball



Smithsburg volleyball coach Rachel Brashear has found the perfect attacking replacement for senior Katie Sprecher's injured right arm: Sprecher's healthy left arm.

Sprecher was a Herald-Mail All-County First Team outside hitter last year using her potent right arm. She's also a two-time All-County First Team honoree in girls basketball, and she often goes to her left hand on post moves.

Thanks to a little motherly advice -- Brashear's mother is Smithsburg athletic director Teresa Bachtell -- Sprecher is making an impact in the front row again.

"I have to give props to my mom for this," Brashear said. "She asked if we tried (Sprecher) left-handed, and I was like, 'Mom, she can't learn that!' But she's a great athlete, and after trying it in practice, it was like, 'My gosh, she might be able to do this!'

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"We need her on the floor. She's irreplaceable."

Not only has Sprecher made the adjustment, but her efficiency is off the charts. In 28 hitting attempts, she has 21 kills and just four errors, good for an efficiency over 60 percent.

That kind of efficiency is surely unsustainable over the rest of the season, but it does prove how versatile an athlete Sprecher is. She's a big reason why the defending Maryland Class 1A champion Leopards are 5-0 -- including an impressive four-game victory over defending Maryland Class 2A champion Francis Scott Key on Tuesday.

Panthers much improved: By winning its first four matches of the season, Hancock (4-1) matched its win total from last season. The last time the Panthers had at least five wins in a season was 2003, when they went 5-10.

"It's a year of girls buying into the program," coach Laura Baker said. "Because we don't have a number of standouts, they know they have to work as a team to accomplish anything."

There is one individual standout -- senior middle hitter Maureen Leavy, who has been one of Washington County's top players in the first three weeks. Leavy leads Hancock in kills (70 in 20 games), blocks (14) and aces (19).

Kirsch answers challenge: North Hagerstown's biggest question mark entering this season may have been how well junior setter Brynne Kirsch could play in place of graduated All-County Second Team honoree Megan Plume.

So far, Kirsch has more than met expectations. She leads the county with her 9.43 assists per game, and her play has allowed Akilah McCall (3.00 kills per game), Peyton Wallech (2.29 kills) and Autumn Fisher (1.93 kills) to shine on the attack and help the Hubs start 3-1.

Boys Soccer



Saint James senior Andrew Ludwick and Broadfording junior Andrew Torres -- who both earned Herald-Mail All-County First Team recognition last year -- have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack early this year in the race for the county scoring title.

While the Saints (1-4-1) have struggled to start the year -- mainly because of a defense that's allowing 4.50 goals per game -- Ludwick has done his part on the attacking end, scoring 10 of Saint James' 11 goals this season.

Torres has been even more prolific for the Lions (9-3, 7-2), who are in the thick of the Mason Dixon Christian Conference regular-season title race. His 23 goals through 12 games already has surpassed his total of 21 last season.

Hubs' defense doesn't rest: North Hagerstown (5-1-1), the Washington County Public Schools Tournament champion for the second straight year, has the best winning percentage among county schools in large part because of its formidable defense.

In its seven games, the Hubs have yielded just five goals -- and zero in three county tournament games. Goalkeeper Caleb Mittel has a paltry 0.57 goals-allowed average, and sweeper Max Psillas -- an All-County First Team midfielder a year ago -- has played extremely well at his new position.

Girls Soccer



Overall, it hasn't been the best of starts for Washington County this season, as its nine teams had a combined record of 16-37-1 through Wednesday.

The county's seven public-school teams were 13-25-1, and its six MVAL Antietam teams were 13-19-1, including a 2-13-1 mark against schools from Frederick and Carroll counties.

Even perennial power North Hagerstown is struggling a bit. At 1-4-1, the Hubs already have twice as many losses as they had all of last season.

But North opens Antietam play tonight at home against Clear Spring (4-2), and the defending conference champion Hubs surely will have something to prove, especially after their run of six straight county tournament titles came to a halt last weekend against Boonsboro.

180-degree turn: In West Virginia, Jefferson has been the perfect example of how a team can turn it around.

The Cougars were on a four-game winning streak through Wednesday, after opening the season with five straight losses. One of their victories came against previously unbeaten Buckhannon-Upshur, which was the state's No. 1-ranked team at the time.

Cross Country



How did Clear Spring senior Jason Hill come seemingly out of nowhere to be Washington County's dominant boys runner this season?

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