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High school volleyball: Wildcats edge Knights in early clash of titans

September 09, 2013|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT — Monday night’s matchup between the last two Maryland Class 2A state champions — Century (2011) and Williamsport (2012) — was so close, a net-cord ace late in the fifth set helped decide it.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, they were on the right end of it. It gave them a 14-12 lead, and Lindsey Mowbray’s kill two points later gave Williamsport a 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 15-13 victory in the season opener for two teams that could very well meet again in the 2A West final come November.

Leading 13-12 in the fifth set, Alexis Cline stepped to the service line and hit a serve that clipped the top of the net and dropped into the short middle between several Century players.

“I asked her, ‘Did you go to church yesterday?’ and she said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘That serve had a prayer on it,” Wildcats coach Emily Crabtree said.

Knights outside hitter Riley Forquer put the last of her game-high 15 kills off the side of Williamsport’s block to give Century serve trailing 14-13. Crabtree called timeout.

“I said, ‘I want to run something,’ and each hitter told me what they were going to do, and I told (setter) Emily (Taylor), ‘Go with what’s there,’” Crabtree said. “Lindsey really wanted it ... and it worked one last time.”

In this case, “it” was the quick middle set Williamsport has used often over the years while amassing 13 state titles. Taylor set up Mowbray, who powered the shot down between the net and Century’s double block for the win.

It ended an evenly played match, with both teams showing their significant potential while also working through the mistakes common of early September matches. Williamsport won 108 points on 44 kills, four blocks, eight aces and 52 Century errors. The Knights won 101 points on 42 kills, five blocks, 10 aces and 44 Wildcats errors.

Crabtree was disappointed that her team failed to put away Century earlier after winning the first two sets. Set 3 was tied at 23 before Victoria Prokic put away two kills to give the Knights the set, and Century carried the momentum through Set 4 to tie the match.

“We shouldn’t have been 15-13 in the fifth set with this team,” Crabtree said. “We should have put them away earlier, and when we didn’t, they caught fire. This shows us that we have to play hard every point and not take anything for granted, but we also learned that we can win in a pressure situation.”

Williamsport spread the ball around on offense, with five different players recording at least five kills each — Mowbray (12), Courtney Malott (nine), Cline (eight), Karli Grimes (five) and Brooklyn Welch (five). Taylor finished with 25 assists and four kills. Malott had 14 digs and Grimes added 13 digs to lead the defense.

Century setter Hailey Thrift arguably was the best player on the floor, with a game-high 28 assists as well as 10 kills, as she burned Williamsport regularly with second-touch attacks.

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