Prep volleyball: Leopards need five sets to top Warriors

September 04, 2012|By CURT HORNBECKER | Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG — Rachel Brashear didn’t want to have to tell her players that Smithsburg’s volleyball team hasn’t lost on its home court since 2008, before any of the current players were in high school.

But when the Leopards entered the decisive fifth set against scrappy Boonsboro in the season and MVAL Antietam opener for both teams, she felt like she didn’t have a choice.

The three-time defending Maryland Class 1A champions responded by increasing their intensity, escaping with a 21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-19, 15-8 victory.

“In the games we won, we jumped out to an early lead,” said Brashear. “We have a young group, and if we’re able to get a little bit of a cushion, they’re able to relax a little bit. The key to the fifth game was us being able to get out on top.”

Smithsburg junior Amanda Snowden asserted herself at the net early in Set 5, finishing with four kills in the set — all in an 8-1 run, giving the Leopards an 11-5 advantage.

The Warriors had success when able to neutralize Snowden at the net. It didn’t happen in the last two sets.

“(In the sets we won) we were able to capitalize on their service errors and cut back on our errors,” said Boonsboro coach Andrea Parry, “and we were able to get some touches and blocks on (Snowden).”

With Boonsboro up 14-11 in Set 4, Snowden sparked an 11-3 Leopards run with six kills, while Haley Caudell added four service points in the streak, forcing the final set.

An 11-3 Warriors run in the first set — sparked by a pair of Sarah Anderson kills and helped by five Smithsburg errors — propelled Boonsboro to a 1-0 lead.

Five Snowden kills and three from Caudell paced the Leopards in Set 2, aided by a pair of Boonsboro service errors.

Trailing 9-8 in Set 3, the Warriors went on a 17-8 run behind Anderson and Taylor Williams’ net play, putting Smithsburg on the ropes.

Despite coming painfully close to knocking off the three-time defending state champions, Parry is hoping her Warriors are able to keep things in their proper perspective.

“It’s a tough way to start the season, and it was a tough loss,” said Parry. “But we’re not going away with our heads hanging. (The Leopards) are a very well-coached team, and we had some critical points down the stretch where we couldn’t stop their No. 1 hitter.”

Parry told her team after the game to “never give up the fight. I guarantee we’ll see Smithsburg again this season.”

Considering Smithsburg’s recent history, Brashear knows every other team will be gunning for the Leopards this year, but she’s just looking for her club to improve.

“We don’t talk about being a target in practice,” said Brashear. “We just focus on getting better.”

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