Funk, VanMeter lead Allegany 3-0 win over Fort Hill

Kyle Bennett, Cumberland Times-News, Md.
·6 min read

Mar. 10—CUMBERLAND — Samara Funk finished just shy of a triple-double and Morgan VanMeter just missed a double-double, leading an Allegany attack that finished sets strong and rallied in the third set for a sweep over Fort Hill on Tuesday evening atop Haystack Mountain.

Funk recorded 11 kills, eight digs and seven points, dominating at the net with VanMeter and Sarah Kesner, who took charge late in the third set to thwart the Sentinels.

"She's just an all-around solid athlete," Campers head coach Cassie Murray said of Funk. "She's one of a couple of them that don't come off the floor. She has a phenomenal work ethic and a great attitude. ... She's just a great, great athlete."

VanMeter finished with 15 assists, nine points with three aces, three kills and three digs.

The Allegany back line showed up from the get-go, with Anna Martz nabbing 16 digs to keep points alive. She also tallied six points.

"Credit to my back row," said Murray. "Our defense was on point tonight, and if we don't have those passes, we don't have those hits."

Ryley Palumbo tallied 19 assists, three digs, two points and two kills for the Sentinels. Brookelyne Noel added six points, five kills and four digs, and Olivia Beal recorded five digs, five points and three kills.

"I have a great group of girls and they're always going to give 100 percent," said Fort Hill head coach Lindsey Fisher. "We definitely played well in that third set. I wish we could've played well that whole time, but at least we got better through each set and we know what to work on."

Both teams went on 4-0 runs to open the match, with a Fort Hill rally following Allegany's.

Trailing 6-5, VanMeter made an off-balance hit to tie things up and kick start another 4-0 run to take the lead for good.

An Allegany serve out of bounds stopped the run, but the Campers jumped out to a five-point lead, 12-7, with a 3-0 run.

Allegany had an answer for any Sentinel run in the set. Fort Hill pulled to within four, 17-13, before Funk took over, scoring two of the next three points to set off an 8-1 run to close out the set — she also had a pair of spikes for two of the final three points, giving Allegany the win, 25-14.

"We had a conversation," said Murray. "There's two hard decisions — you can either not pick it up and have a long, lost game, or you can pick it up, hustle, communicate even more and come back from behind and win the game. Luckily they picked the second one.

"I really push communication because when they stop talking, they stop playing. We really talk in practice about not stopping until the play is 100% over and picking anything and everything up so nothing hits the floor."

Another back-and-forth battle between a hungry Campers squad and a young, gritty Sentinels team saw Fort Hill leading 9-8, but Allegany went on a 5-0 run, aided by a kill from Funk and a block by Grace Stevenson, for a 13-9 lead.

The teams went point for point, with Fort Hill trailing 15-12, before Kesner got a kill in between a pair of Sentinels to spark a 5-0 run for a 20-12 lead.

A trio of serves from Noel gave the Campers fits and the Sentinels three points, to get back into things at 20-15. But, Allegany swung momentum back in its favor to score five of the next six points to take the set, 25-16.

The Sentinels were hungry to get back into the match in the third, using a 4-0 run midway through the set for a 14-10 lead following points from Alivia Appel and Morgan Brown, forcing Allegany into a timeout — Funk got a spike coming out of the stoppage to end the run.

The Campers later used a 2-0 run to draw within two, 16-14, before Noel got a kill for a three-point Sentinel lead.

A VanMeter attack started what ended up being a 6-0 run, with Funk recording one of her two aces for a permanent lead. The Campers led 20-17 at the end of the run.

The Sentinels scored the next two points to get back to within one, but a lengthy rally — with a diving save from Allegany's Anika Stylinski to keep the point alive — went in favor of the Campers after a spike attempt from Fort Hill sailed out of bounds.

Kesner tallied three of the next four points with kills for a 24-20 lead.

The Sentinels went on a 3-0 run to get within a point, but the Campers dealt the final blow for a 25-23 win and the match.

"It feels good to win, and feels good to win after such a long break," Murray said. "We had the long break, and then three weeks of practice, so it's good momentum going in (to start the season).

"I look forward to playing them again because I know they're not done. They'll definitely come back the next time around and have something new to throw at us with more experience playing together, so we'll be ready for it and continue practicing hard."

The Campers and Sentinels meet again on Thursday, March 18, at Fort Hill.

"Just work on the basics," Fisher said of what the Sentinels need to improve upon. "Serve-receive was a big issue tonight. Our offense, I think we need to attack the ball more. Other than that, we gave a great effort tonight and I'm proud of them."

The Campers won the jayvee game in a 2-0 sweep, winning both sets 25-19.

Allison Leatherman led the way for Alco with nine points, seven assists, two kills and two digs. Zoey Rhodes added nine assists and six points to go along with an ace and Kinsey Hostetler had nine digs, four points with an ace, and one kill.

The Sentinels were led by Alyssa Shoemaker with 13 assists, five points and two digs. Grace Tressler tacked on six kills and five points and Brienne Willison had eight digs and one point.

Both teams play Mountain Ridge next, with Fort Hill playing on the road again on Thursday before Allegany travels to Frostburg on Tuesday. The junior varsity game begins at 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow at 7 p.m.

"We're a young team for the most part," said Fisher. "I think they definitely wanted to get out here and finally play after practicing for three weeks. It is like the first game of the season all over again, so I definitely think they were a little nervous."

Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.