Perryville girls lose again to Smithsburg in 1A state volleyball final

College Park - For the second consecutive year the Perryville girls volleyball team had its season end inside Ritchie Coliseum in the Maryland Class 1A state finals. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Smithsburg's did, too.

Smithsburg, which swept the Panthers in last year's final, was even more dominant in sweeping the Panthers again in this year's final, winning 3-0, Friday night on the University of Maryland campus. Smithsburg won by scores of 25-10, 25-5 and 25-4.

"This was a huge experience for us, to come to the finals again, a second year in a row. It's been amazing," Panthers head coach Sara Farnham said. "My girls did not quit and I'm proud of them for that."

Perryville (13-7) did score the first point in both of the first two games, but Smithsburg reeled off the next six points each time en route to the lopsided wins.

The Leopards were in control from the start and in game three, totally capped the win in dominating fashion, highlighted by an 11-point serving run, which put the Leopards ahead, 18-3, and forcing Panthers coach Farnham to call timeout.

Farnham called two timeouts in set two, once trailing, 12-4, and the other, 20-5.

Junior hitter Emily Merklinger was the Panthers main offensive threat, accounting for all but two of the Panthers kills. Merklinger finished with six kills and senior Marissa Phillips had the other two.

"It feels amazing, because last year was my first official year playing," Phillips said. "I got lucky to be on such an amazing team and go this far."

Smithburg's power came from junior hitter Amanda Snowden, who put down 12 kills to lead the Leopards to their fourth straight state title.

Snowden was also a force from the service line, where she served out game two with 12 straight points. Snowden's powerful serves led to eight aces and a game-high 20 points.

Despite the loss, the Panthers did play fairly well at times, especially on defense. Phillips had six of the Panthers 15 digs. Morgan Tennant had four and Kylie Shiflett had two. Shiflett also had the Panthers' two serving aces and Tennant added seven assists. Merklinger also added a block in the loss.

"We have become such a family even more so than last year," Merklinger said. "That's what we focused on today, staying a team, keeping our attitudes up because we knew it was going to be a tough game, because Smithsburg is an amazing team."

Smithsburg (18-3) had 30 kills and 17 aces and 28 assists. Perryville had nine assists.

"I think we're really starting to make a name for ourselves," Farnham said. Farnham also noted that she's engaged to be married next June and that this was her final match.

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