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The Patterson Mill girs volleyball team put forth a valiant effort Saturday, but a perennially tough Smithsburg Leopards team was just better in the Class 1A girls volleyball state championship contested at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum in College Park.

The Huskies battled to the end, but fell in straight sets, 3-0. Scores were 25-13, 25-19, 29-27.

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“We came here today with expectations to do our very best and we put up a good fight,” Huskies assistant coach Brandon Jones said. “The last match, I felt like we turned it on just a little, too late today.”

The Huskies (12-6) seemed a little rattled in the opening set. They scored the first point of the match but the Leopards (13-8) scored the next six, taking advantage of hitting and serve errors by the Huskies.

The lead grew to 9-2 and the Huskies needed a timeout. Smithsburg senior Sydney Hammond put down five of her match-leading 13 kills in the first set. The lead was 16-8 after a Katie Keech kill for the Huskies, but that’s as close as the Huskies could get.

“You could tell we were a bit nervous coming in to this. This team [Smithsburg] has been a state champion numerous times and we weren’t intimidated, we simply, this was our first time on the big stage and these ladies did a fantastic job,” Huskies coach Jones said.

The title was ninth in the past 11 years for the Leopards.

The Huskies played better in set two and led 5-4 early on Delaney Madsen’s ace. Enter Smithsburg freshman Kylie Snyder. Her two kills and block, coupled with an ace serve from Hammond, put Leopards ahead, 9-5.

A 7-4 run pushed the lead to 16-9, but Patterson Mill put together a little run. A kill and block by Mikaela Truong had the Huskies to within five, 18-13. Moments later it was a Cailey Jones kill to keep the Huskies within five, 21-16. The Huskies actually cut the deficit to three, 22-19, but Snyder’s (six kills) fourth kill of the set started a set-ending three-point run.

The Huskies put it all out there in set three. They led 5-4 and the match saw ties of 5-5, 7-7 and 8-8. Smithsburg slid ahead 11-8, but back came the Huskies. A Katerina Lomis kill fueled five-point Huskies run. Two Smithsburg hitting errors tied the match at 11 and an ace serve off the net by Keech pushed the Huskies back ahead, 13-11.

Madsen’s kill and ace had the Huskies ahead, 15-13. A Keech kill made it 21-17 and the Huskies had the momentum to force set four.

Smithsburg though, battled back to within a point, 21-20, but two Keech kills kept the Huskies ahead, 22-20, and 23-21.

At set point for the Huskies, Smithsburg rallied twice to save the point and the set. The set was knotted at 24-24, 25-25, 26-26 and 27-27, before the Leopards finally scored consecutive points to end the match.

“I think the first set we were really nervous, we just had to get all that out,” Madsen said. “We got to play better in the second and third sets, just didn’t play hard enough."

Keech led the Huskies with 10 kills, 20 digs and 11 points. Madsen added six kills, two blocks and 13 digs, while Truong added five kills, three blocks and six digs. Jones finished with four kills, two blocks and eight digs.

For Smithsburg, Morgan Domenico and Ashley Eichelberger both had six kills. The Leopards had a 35-27 edge in kills and both teams had seven serve errors.

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“We really played our hearts out, I mean we really did,” Keech said. “I’m very thankful for the team and how we played today. We had a lot of energy and we looked good. We lost, but we looked good as a team.”

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