COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Smithsburg's volleyball team was all business on Tuesday night, moving one victory away from its third straight Maryland Class 1A state championship with a ruthlessly efficient 25-7, 25-13, 25-11 sweep of Western Tech at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.
The Leopards (16-2) will face Perryville (13-5) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Smithsburg has won 14 straight playoff matches dating to 2009 and will be seeking its eighth state title in program history.
Western Tech (12-5) — making its first appearance in the state semifinals — never had much of a chance. An 11-0 run gave Smithsburg a 13-2 lead in Game 1, runs of 6-0 and 5-0 made it 11-2 early in Game 2, and an 8-0 run gave the Leopards a 14-6 lead in Game 3.
"The experience helps when you've been through all this before," Smithsburg coach Rachel Brashear said. "In the stands, our girls are usually a pretty rowdy bunch, but they were quiet tonight."
Quiet and effective. Senior Sarah Shives had 30 assists and five aces, senior Danielle Harbaugh had 17 kills, sophomore Amanda Snowden had nine kills and junior Haley Caudell added eight kills for the Leopards. Senior Karah Knight led the way defensively with seven digs.
"The effort was all around the court tonight with our passes and our sets," Harbaugh said. "Everyone was up tonight."
"These girls have just shown so much improvement and growth — more growth than any team I've ever had," Brashear said. "They stepped it up tonight in all areas."
Smithsburg finished with 35 kills and 11 aces compared to eight kills and three aces for Western Tech.
The Leopards will vie for Washington County's 23rd state volleyball championship Saturday. North Hagerstown could also play for the Class 3A state title Saturday if the Hubs beat Towson in their semifinal Thursday at 8 p.m.
"We're part of the tradition of Washington County, and we want to represent the county well," Brashear said.