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State championship trophy remains in Leopards' case for 3rd straight year

November 19, 2011|By DAN KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Smithsburg's Amanda Snowden (13) celebrates with teammates Rachel Yoder (6), Danielle Harbaugh, left center, and Sarah Shives (4) after scoring match point against Perryville to give the Leopards their third-straight Maryland Class 1A state title on Saturday at College Park, Md.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Smithsburg's long and storied volleyball history got a little longer and a little more storied on Saturday.

Senior Danielle Harbaugh had 14 kills and three blocks, and the Leopards swept Perryville 25-3, 25-13, 25-14 to win their third straight Maryland Class 1A state championship at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.

It's the first three-peat for Smithsburg (17-2), which became the 13th team to win at least three straight state titles.

Leopards coach Rachel Brashear is the 15th coach in state history to win at least three state titles.

"I'm just so incredibly proud of this group of girls. They just took off where we left off last year, stepped up and filled the holes we needed to fill," said Brashear, who lost five starters from last year's team.

Smithsburg left Perryville (13-6) shell-shocked in Game 1. Senior Sarah Shives served an 11-0 run that included two aces and Harbaugh's five kills.

The Panthers got on the board on Emily Merklinger's block, but Harbaugh's block on the next point led to senior Caitlyn Cramer's eight-point service run, and the rout was on.

"We haven't played against a team like that," Perryville coach Sarah Farnham said. "They have an amazing program. ... (We) were a little intimidated at the beginning."

Sophomore Amanda Snowden started Game 2 with four straight aces, and Cramer had two more in a 7-0 run that gave Smithsburg a 13-3 lead. Harbaugh had six kills and Shives had six assists and two aces in the game.

Perryville was more competitive in Game 3, trailing just 12-9 before the Leopards gained some breathing room with a three-point run.

The Panthers battled hard, but Smithsburg ended the game with a 5-0 run, and Snowden's kill on match point gave the Leopards the title.

Snowden had five kills, Harbaugh four and Cramer and junior Haley Caudell added two each, with Shives notching 11 assists.

Snowden had five kills, five digs and four aces in the match, while Caudell had five kills and Shives added 19 assists, seven digs and four aces for Smithsburg.

The Leopards had 26 kills, 15 aces and four blocks, while Perryville finished with eight kills, five aces and two blocks.

Smithsburg has won 15 straight playoff matches — the last 13 in sweeps. The Leopards will start 2012 seeking to become the seventh team in state history to win four straight state titles, with a solid nucleus returning that includes Caudell and Snowden as dangerous hitters.

"I think we'll be solid next year," Brashear said. "Will we win another state championship? I don't know."

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