Fast Start has North Hagerstown Volleyball Primed for Big Season

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Another year of high school sports is well underway, and it looks like it'll be yet another strong season for the North Hagerstown volleyball program.

The Hubs have become one of the gold standards in Maryland in recent seasons. The peak of North Hagerstown's powers came from 2011-2014 when the program won three state championships in four years.

Since 2014 however, the Hubs have been unable to get back to Ritchie Coliseum, despite having winning seasons. This year's team looks like it could change that- North Hagerstown is off to a fast start, and currently holds a 6-1 record.

"We've developed a competitive program over the past 12 years," head coach Megan Crawford said. "I think consistency has a lot to do with it. The girls know our expectations of them on and off the floor. They've bought into the system and without that buy in we wouldn't be as successful. They ultimately are the ones that have made this program so successful."

In terms of the make-up of this year's group, North Hagerstown had two seniors and three juniors return that had played frequently last season. The returners have been aided by two sophomores and a freshman that have enjoyed nice starts to 2017.

Crawford believes the team could get better as the season goes on as the newcomers and veterans get more time playing together.

"We are more versatile than we have been in the past couple of years. I have four girls that don't leave the floor which helps with consistency. In the past we have had one or two hitters that we would go to all the time," Crawford said. "This year we have several different options which helps our setter run a more fluid offense."

That setter, junior Claire Knepper, is one of many Hubs that have enjoyed standout individual campaigns. She is joined by senior libero Sienna Starkey, junior right side hitter Ashton Barvinchack, sophomore outside hitter Chloe Coulter and freshman middle hitter Drew Wallech in being North Hagerstown's go to players thus far.

Those players will have to continue to play at a high level if North Hagerstown is going to make an impact in its first season in the Central Maryland Conference. The Hubs have done a good job in the CMC thus far, especially in their most recent match against Tuscarora which finished 20-25, 25-18, 26-24, 19-25, 15-13. It won't get any easier for North Hagerstown as contests with Middletown, Williamsport and Smithsburg still await in conference play, as well as an out of conference match-up with Magruder.

The difficult schedule should provide some challenges for the Hubs, but Crawford hopes it'll also have her team ready to peak at the right time as this year's group looks to accomplish what the program did in 2014.

"Once you win a state championship and know how it feels you always want to get back there. We try not to stress it that much and take it one game at a time," Crawford said. "If we're playing our best ball at the end of October then I will be happy."
September 29th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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