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Prep Volleyball: Wildcats crowd Bears out of 2A playoffs

November 07, 2012|By WILL ROBINSON | will.robinson@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT — CORRECTION: This story originally incorrectly stated that Williamsport would host Winters Mill in Friday's 2A West final. Williamsport will host Francis Scott Key on Friday. FSK beat Winters Mill 3-2 in the other 2A West semifinal. The Herald-Mail apologizes for the error.

Boosted by a raucous crowd in its gym, Williamsport’s volleyball team advanced to the Maryland Class 2A West final with a 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-18 victory over Oakdale on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (16-1), who are the top seed in the region, recovered from a Set 1 loss to win the final three sets from the fourth-seeded Bears (12-4) and reach their first region final since 2007. Williamsport will host second-seeded Francis Scott Key (15-2) in the final Friday at 6 p.m.

“Can I just give a shoutout to the crowd tonight?” said Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree. “This was the first match where the crowd really made a difference. We really played better with them, especially in Set 2. They gave us that rush of adrenaline that pushed us to succeed.”

The Wildcats used three straight kills by Stacey Christy to take a 16-13 lead in Set 1 before the Bears fought back. An ace by Dani Tunnell gave Oakdale a 21-20 lead before three straight errors by the Wildcats gave the Bears the set.

“We served well and we blocked well, particularly in that first set,” said Oakdale coach Shan Sell. “But when (Emily) put (Courtney Malott) in the front in the second set, that messed us up a bit. She’s a left-handed hitter and we weren’t prepared for that. That was the difference.”

Malott moved to middle hitter in Set 2 and had two of her eight kills and three of her nine blocks in the set. Malott’s play allowed her teammates to excel — especially Christy and Haley Wolff, who each had five kills in the set.

“I want to give kudos to Courtney. She came in and played a position she hadn’t played since the beginning of the season and gave us a spark that turned into a fire,” Crabtree said. “I told her, ‘Who needs to be 6-foot-2 to play middle hitter?’ We found the combo that was working and we stuck with it.”

Oakdale started Set 2 on a 7-2 run, but Williamsport came back to tie it at 11. The Bears then overcame a five-point deficit to take a 21-20 lead, highlighted by a block and an ace by Liz Twilley.

But a three-point run by the Wildcats on Brooklyn Welch’s serve gave them a 23-22 lead, and two kills by Christy tied the match at one set apiece.

Williamsport started Set 3 on a 10-5 run, but Oakdale came back to take an 11-10 lead. After a Williamsport timeout, the Wildcats pushed out to a 17-13 lead en route to the set victory.

Set 4 saw Oakdale keep the frame close early, trailing just 11-10 before a three-point run by the Wildcats gave them a four-point cushion. Williamsport never looked back.

“The stars are beginning to align for us, and we’ll take it,” said Crabtree. “Our players have their superstitions before each game and we’re still winning, so we’ll stick with them.”

Christy had 23 kills, four blocks and two aces, Wolff had 12 kills, Emily Taylor had 42 assists and Andrea Nunnally added 12 digs for the Wildcats.

Twilley had 14 kills, eight blocks and 15 digs, Tunnell had 33 digs and Taylor McGaughey had 21 assists and 10 digs for Oakdale.

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