Smithsburg seniors break Key's stride Eagles' unbeaten run ends with sweeping thud

September 29, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Smithsburg, featuring five senior starters, ran its unbeaten record to six matches last night, overwhelming previously undefeated Francis Scott Key in the first game and going on to a 15-2, 15-10, 15-6 victory in a Monocacy Valley Athletic League match in Uniontown.

Prior to this, Key (5-1, 2-1) had lost only one game all season, and was working on a string of 14 successive wins.

Smithsburg, considered one of the two best teams (with Williamsport) in the league, looked the part. The Leopards boast four-year starters Rachel Bachtell and Carey Brennan, rated a Division I prospect, and complemented by setter Kelli Martin, simply had too many guns.

"We were so psyched for this match ahead of time, then never got going. It was blah," said Jessica Broderick, one of three Key seniors on a team that also gets a lot of work from four sophomores, and is still trying to put it together.

"The second and third games were better because we began to get used to what they were doing." What Smithsburg was doing was systematically taking the Eagles apart.

Bachtell, back from ACL surgery that cut short her basketball season last winter, had 11 kills and Brennan, 10, and Martin 25 assists and 15 service points. Key finally got some better passing and setting halfway through the second game, as it rallied from a 12-3 deficit.

With the outcome realistically no longer in doubt, the home team calmed down in the third game.

"The passing improved and we were able to put some balls down," said coach Alice Smith. Broderick finished with five kills, and sophomore setter Carrie Ness had seven assists.

With this as an indicator, Key now can begin getting itself ready for its annual go-round against county rivals. The Eagles have won the county event three years in a row, and will try to continue this streak when play is held Friday and Saturday at Liberty.

Smithsburg coach Jim Klein, able to give son Brady a 1-year birthday present, said, "The thing I liked most was we played our best defense. Until tonight, I thought we were a poor blocking team, but we have been emphasizing it in practice, and it showed."

So did the senior leadership -- players who went 16-1 a year ago before losing the Class 1A regional final to Glenelg.

The `rally" game has become history for Maryland public high schools. Started at the beginning of the season, it called for a point to be awarded on every serve in the fifth game of a match.

Although used during the first three weeks of the season (and those results will stand), coaches and officials have been notified the rule was never approved by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, and hereafter is considered null and void.

Pub Date: 9/29/98

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