Key stays perfect with rugged win over Smithsburg

November 11, 1995|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Every point was earned. Every kill was challenged.

The No. 8 Francis Scott Key Eagles knew they had a major test on their hands last night against visiting Smithsburg. They passed.

After dropping the first game, the Eagles stormed back to take the next three and come away with their second straight Class 1A South region title. The scores were 5-15, 15-8, 15-9, 16-14. the Eagles advance to the Class 1A state semifinals on Tuesday.

The Leopards (14-3) had three chances to send the match to a fifth game before Key closed it out. Turning a 14-12 deficit into a 15-14 lead, Nicole Keffer found an opening in the left corner to give the Eagles (19-0) the win. It was one of a number of huge points in the tension-filled match.

Stephanie Stambaugh (eight kills, 13 blocks) and Cindy Sheedy (10 kills) took turns dominating the net to more than offset a strong effort from Smithsburg's Alexa Robertson.

The Eagles got strong performances from Ericka Rutzebeck, Amy Brooks and Keffer, along with fine setting from Kristi Hollman and Erin Ness. Kristy Caldwell played a big role with five aces, four coming early in the pivotal fourth game.

The Leopards were the only team this season to take the Eagles (17-0) to five games.

"This was the best steppingstone we could have had; this was a confidence builder," Key coach Leo Totten said. "Our girls are just mentally tough and refuse to lose. The kids find a way to rise to another level. Every time they need to do it, they do it."

Key came out a little flustered in the first game and the Leopards took over, coasting to a 15-5 win. The Eagles answered as Stambaugh came up with two huge blocks late and a kill in the Eagles 15-8 win in game two.

"That was hard," Stambaugh said. "Everybody was trying to keep everyone up and everything positive. We worked for every point."

It was Rutzebeck's turn in the third game, with plenty of help from Sheedy and strong serving from Hollman. Totten brought Caldwell off the bench in the third and fourth games and she responded with five big aces.

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