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Hubs, Leopards show county's strength by winning crowns

November 20, 2011|By DAN KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • North Hagerstown's Mollie Johnson (6) and Autumn Fisher (13) celebrate winning a point during the Hubs' five-game victory over River Hill in the Maryland Class 3A state championship match on Saturday.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Saturday was a historic day for Washington County volleyball — a day when North Hagerstown won the county’s first Maryland Class 3A state championship and Smithsburg rolled to its third straight state title to join its own elite category.

“I think it’s still sinking in,” Hubs coach Megan Crawford said Sunday about North’s championship. “I saw some of the girls today and they’re still so excited. It’s the first one ever at North and I didn’t realize it’s the county’s first 3A state title. We’re still, I think, in awe of the whole thing.”

The Hubs (17-2) — who had been on the losing end of four previous state championship matches — finished off a difficult run through the 3A gauntlet, with tough victories over Thomas Johnson (13-3) and Damascus (16-2) in the 3A West region and defending state champion Towson (18-2) and River Hill (18-2) in the state tournament.

“They were huge wins, and all against great programs,” Crawford said. “It could have gone either way with each team we played. Once we won that Damascus game, we knew the girls got it, and they started to take on their roles and were owning them.”

The Leopards (17-2) rolled through Class 1A with ease, sweeping all five of their opponents to extend their playoff winning streak to 15 matches since 2009 — the last 13 in sweeps. Smithsburg won its eighth state title overall — second in the county to Williamsport’s 12 — and became the 13th team in state history and the second from the county to win at least three straight state titles: Williamsport won four straight Class 1A titles from 2002-05.

“This was one of my most enjoyable years,” Leopards coach Rachel Brashear said Saturday. “We got back to teaching fundamentals and basics, and these kids were willing to learn and I had so much fun watching them grow.”

Washington County had two volleyball state champions crowned for only the second time — the first coming 30 years ago in 1981, when Williamsport won the Class B title (now Class 2A) and Smithsburg won the Class C crown (now Class 1A). Overall, the county now has 24 MPSSAA state volleyball titles — in addition to Williamsport’s 12 and Smithsburg’s eight, Clear Spring has two and North and Boonsboro each have one.

“I’ve heard a bunch of people say that the West (region) volleyball is very good, and that goes back to all the great coaches who have coached here and the tradition we have here,” Crawford said. “Coaches like Cindi Neugebauer, Kristi Gee, Jim Klein and Tracy McKinsey, to name a few. Knowing what they put into it and trying to follow that tradition, that’s how volleyball is around here.”

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