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'Cats' first loss proves to be last of season

November 07, 2011|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT — Top-seeded Williamsport’s first and only loss of the season on Monday came with heavy consequences, as eighth-seeded Middletown ended the Wildcats’ season 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 in the Maryland Class 2A West volleyball quarterfinals.

“What just happened? All I could think was, ‘What just happened?’” said Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree. “This was not the same team that was 15-0 tonight. We were confident going into this match, but maybe we were overconfident. We tried to keep our players focused, keep them focusing on one game at a time, but saying and doing are two different things.”

Neither team was able to secure an advantage of more than two points in Game 1 until Williamsport (15-1) took a 23-20 lead on Brooklyn Welch’s serve. The Wildcats won two of the next three points to take the game and move two games from the semifinals.

Williamsport found its footing in Game 2 quickly, jumping out to a 9-4 advantage. The Wildcats increased their lead to 13-6 and forced a Middletown timeout, and all seemed well — but that timeout proved to be the beginning of the end for Williamsport.

Middletown (9-7) turned the tide of the match on senior Bree Strube’s service run, storming back take a 14-13 lead. The Knights kept the pressure on, increasing their lead to 18-14. Williamsport used a 5-1 run to tie the game at 19, but Middletown pulled away after that, and suddenly and surprisingly, the match was tied at 1.

The Knights’ momentum would not be denied, as they took a 13-4 advantage in Game 3 and had Williamsport reeling. Middletown led by at least nine points the rest of the game, ending it on an ace by Caitlin Roy.

Middletown won Game 4 on a passing error into the net by Williamsport, leaving the home crowd in stunned silence.

“We never lost our intensity. We pushed through Williamsport’s attempts at forced errors and came up with this amazing win,” said Middletown coach Aubrey Pfau. “If there’s a possible Cinderella story in the postseason, it’s us. We ended our regular season at 7-7 and now we’ve just knocked off the No. 1 seed. That’s amazing.”

Williamsport’s team expected much more from this postseason, and tears and heartbreak filled the gym. Crabtree hopes there’s a lesson hidden in this experience.

“We went undefeated in the regular season, which is an accomplishment, but it stinks that the seniors won’t have another shot at this,” Crabtree said. “I hope our returning players learn from this and come back even stronger next season, because I know that they don’t want to feel like this again.”

Stacey Christy had 11 kills and five blocks, Welch had 15 digs, Summer Neff had 11 digs and Sam Kelly added seven kills and 10 digs for the Wildcats.

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