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High School Volleyball: 'Cats, Hubs, Leopards take familiar places

October 29, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Smithsburg and Williamsport have earned No. 1 seeds, while North Hagerstown is a No. 2 seed as the Maryland state volleyball playoff draw was held Monday, with tournament matches beginning later this week.

Smithsburg (12-3) is the three-time defending Class 1A state champion and has earned the top seed in Class 1A West for the fourth straight year. The Leopards have a first-round bye.

No. 9 North Carroll (1-13) will travel to No. 8 Clear Spring (6-8) on Friday at 6 p.m. for a first-round match, with the winner facing Smithsburg in the quarterfinals next week. The Leopards beat the Blazers in four sets earlier this season.

No. 4 Boonsboro also has a first-round bye and will face the winner between No. 5 Northern Garrett (8-7) and No. 12 Southern Garrett (6-7) in the quarterfinals. The Warriors could face Smithsburg in the semifinals — the Leopards edged Boonsboro in five tough sets in the season opener for both teams.

In the bottom half of the 1A West bracket, No. 11 Hancock (7-8) will travel to No. 6 Manchester Valley (2-12) for a first-round match. No. 2 Fort Hill (11-3) and No. 3 Mountain Ridge (10-3) have first-round byes.

Williamsport (14-1) is the top seed in the top half of the Class 2A West bracket, getting a top seed for the second straight year. The Wildcats know that gets them nothing, as they went into the 2011 playoffs unbeaten and were upset by Middletown in the region quarterfinals.

“I think we’re going to be a little more prepared this year — if this stupid storm gets out of here and we can get back in the gym,” Wildcats coach Emily Crabtree said. “We’ve talked about how being focused is very important and trying to not take anything for granted and come into the gym with an attitude of confidence and playing our hardest, playing our best because that’s what we’re going to be facing on the other side of the net. The other teams in the region will be out to get us.”

Williamsport will host the winner between No. 4 Century (8-6) and No. 5 Wheaton (3-10) in the quarterfinals next week — the Wildcats swept Century last week in their regular-season finalé. No. 2 Oakdale (11-3) and No. 3 Middletown (7-6) loom as possible semifinal opponents.

No. 1 Winters Mill (10-2) and No. 2 Francis Scott Key (12-2) are the main threats in the bottom half of the 2A West bracket. Williamsport beat FSK in four sets earlier this season.

“We’ve been playing well,” Crabtree said. “Our last couple matches of the season were some of our best volleyball.”

Winters Mill has a four-set victory over Smithsburg and a three-set loss to North Hagerstown this season. The Hubs also handed the Wildcats their only loss this season, in a five-set thriller.

North Hagerstown (12-1) will begin its Class 3A state title defense in the West quarterfinals against the winner between No. 7 Einstein and No. 10 Urbana. The Hubs have won 12 straight matches since a season-opening five-set loss to FSK.

North still has one regular-season match to play — the rivalry battle at home against South Hagerstown (2-11), which has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

“The girls are playing pretty well right now, playing together,” Hubs coach Megan Crawford said. “They’re excited. They’ve been working hard day in and day out, and we’ll just have to wait and see how we play during the playoffs.”

The top seed in 3A West is Tuscarora (13-1), while No. 3 Damascus (11-3) could meet the Hubs in the semifinals. That would be a rematch of last year’s 3A West final, in which North beat Damascus in three close sets.

No. 4 Linganore will host the Rebels in a first-round matchup.

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