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AOW: With big match, Smith leads Wildcats to CIF semi-finals

November 13, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer
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It was one of the most crucial moments in the Brawley Union High volleyball team's season.

It was the fifth and final game of Brawley's CIF San Diego Section Division III match against La Jolla and only one point separated the teams and only one point was needed for the victory.

With everything on the line, the match was in the hands of 16-year-old junior Morgan Smith. Just as she had done all night, she came through in the clutch and served the match-winning point, giving her team to a 7-15, 15-7, 15-9, 13-15, 15-13 victory over La Jolla on Thursday.

Smith finished with 19 points, 11 kills and three blocks, but still she wasn't satisfied with the win.

"I think we could've won it in three. I don't know what it was, I think it was because we hadn't seen them before and they were just a different team," said the 5-foot-11 Smith. "But other than that, I think as a team we played really well. And our defense … that's the best I've ever seen it play.

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"Everyone was really excited about that. I know my adrenaline was rushing and I was so excited about playing," said Smith.

The win advanced the Wildcats to the semifinals of the playoffs, where Brawley will play the tournament's No. 1 seed, University of San Diego High School at 4 today.

Unlike most of the year, though, Smith knows she and her teammates enter the contest with their backs against the wall.

"We all know that we're the underdogs going into this, but I think we're ready for it. We know that we're a good team and we deserve to be here, but we just have to step it up again," Smith said.

For the Wildcats to be successful, Brawley coach Phil Finnell knows Smith will have to play a big role.

Along with all-everything player Leighan Sudduth, Finnell said Smith is a big reason for the team's success.

"If she's on, our team has a huge weapon in her. If her serve is on, she's just an even bigger weapon for us," said Finnell. "I think I go to her as much as I do Leighan. In that situation against La Jolla, where she served the game-winner, that showed a lot of character and maturity. I just think Morgan's unbelievable.

"She's one of those players who is always improving, always wants to learn and bounces back when she makes a mistake. Those are the kind of players you want on your team," said Finnell. "I'd say without her presence in the middle, it'd make my job a lot more difficult."

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