Experience locks Key out of region N. Hagerstown's seniors lead way in three games

November 08, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Experience was the upper hand at Francis Scott Key last night. North Hagerstown, which has made it to the state tourney three of the last four years in Class 2A, started four seniors to Key's one.

The visitors used this advantage to hold off the Eagles in three well-played, hard-fought games, 16-14, 15-11, 15-11, to capture the Class 2A-West region title.

North Hagerstown now moves on to the state semifinals, where it will play No. 13 South River at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Essex Community College.

Although Key won the Class 1A title last year and was runner-up two years ago, senior Heather Abel was the only returning starter as the school moved to Class 2A this year.

North Hagerstown, which only lost -- twice -- to Williamsport in a 17-2 season, broke a tie at 14 after overcoming an 11-7 deficit in the first game, pulled away from a tie at 10 in the second, and from 13-11 in the third. Setter Nicole Morgan, who had 17 service points and 23 assists, served out the first and third games.

The dominant player of the night, though, was Kristin Sherwood, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter for the visitors. She was omnipresent in the middle and ended with 22 kills and 10 blocks.

On several Key line drive serves, she reacted quickly enough to swat the ball back for winners.

Several other members of the visiting cast were also active, as senior Natalie Friton had 10 assists; and Kristin Fisher, Megan McBurney, and Ashley Olszewski combined for 15 kills and 22 digs, and Olszewski added four blocks.

Three weeks ago, North Hagerstown had won a regular-season meeting in five games, but both coaches declared this to be a much better match.

"We were a little more prepared, and our intensity was much better," said the winners' Terry McKinsey. "However, our passing was the difference. We struggled in the first game, but our passing turned things around. If the passing is on, our offense goes."

First-year head coach Alice Smith said, "These three games were much more competitive. Our setters had a good night, and in the last game, we started picking up some balls."

Abel, used as a hitter and a back-row defender, is only 5-foot-6 but she has an excellent vertical leap. She finished with 10 digs, and Stephanie Robertson, a junior middle hitter, had 11. Another junior, Carrie Weant, had 11 service points and 12 assists, and Jessica Broderick, a junior middle hitter, had eight kills.

The loss snapped a three-match winning streak the Eagles (10-7) had put together after a late-season slump saw them lose five matches in a row.

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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