Leopards are spotty, but top Mavericks

November 07, 2011|By JACK HILL III | Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG — Smithsburg’s No. 1-seeded and two-time defending Maryland Class 1A state champion volleyball team may have been a little rusty in its 2011 playoff opener Monday night against Manchester Valley in the 1A West quarterfinals.

Playing for the first time in 13 days, Smithsburg had to persevere through two competitive games to start and end the match. The Leopards won their 11th straight playoff contest, 25-22, 25-13, 25-20.

Smithsburg (13-2) will host Southern Garrett in the 1A West semifinals on Wednesday night at 6.

“I think it’s tough when you haven’t played for two weeks,” Smithsburg coach Rachel Brashear said. “I think that showed tonight. Sometimes, it helps just to get that first win under your belt. But we just weren’t crisp, because we just couldn’t really get into the flow tonight.”

Senior middle hitter Danielle Harbaugh led the way — as she has done all season — with 12 kills and three blocks for the Leopards.

“A lot of teams underestimated us, because we lost a lot of great seniors from last year,” Harbaugh said.

“We have made a lot of progress since the beginning of the season,” Harbaugh said. “We have to keep in our minds that any team can beat us. We have proven to ourselves that we can accomplish our goals if we continue to work hard together.”

Sarah Shives had 16 assists, Karah Knight made 10 digs and Amanda Snowden added five kills for Smithsburg.

Rachyl Kohler served five straight points to give Manchester Valley (5-12) a 22-21 lead in Game 1. Smithsburg won the next four points — three on freshman Payton Belella’s service — with Snowden’s kill winning the game.

In Game 2, Caitlyn Cramer’s seven straight service points gave the Leopards a 9-1 lead. Harbaugh reeled off six straight service points to make it 16-3 and give Smithsburg a bit of a breather.

Snowden started Game 3 with five straight service points, but the Mavericks got seven straight service points by Chelsea Grothe and rallied to take a 13-11 lead. Smithsburg battled its way back in front 23-20, and Belella closed it out with two more service points.

“Haley Caudell made a couple of nice blocks during the third game and that helped us gain momentum and finish the match,” Brashear said.

Manchester Valley coach Mindy Myers was proud of her team for not quitting.

“We never stopped fighting,” Myers said. “We came in here and we made them work for their points. We wanted to serve tough and keep them out of their system. If we would have won that first game, it would have changed the match. It would have given us another level of confidence and it would have put them back on their heels a little bit.”

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