Ellis skies for the block against Triton Central. Photos by Diane Denney

By Dan Harney

HAGERSTOWN—Some coaches schedule sure wins to pad their record. Good coaches seek to play the best competition they can find to prepare their teams for the post season. The Hagerstown Tigers, an Elite Eight team, in each of the last three season, and currently ranked ninth in the 2A poll, hosted a three-way Saturday with 4A Richmond and defending 2A Sectional 42 Champion Triton Central who is currently ranked fourteenth. It was an easy decision for both Richmond Coach Russ Uhte and Triton Central Coach Ray Basile when Hagerstown called.
Uhte, in his first year at the helm, is trying to restore the once powerful Red Devil program to relevance in the North Central Conference and in state tournament play. Basile, who has built a powerful program at Trition Central, could not resist a chance to play a potential Regional opponent in Hagerstown. Both coaches explained their logic after their matches. Uhte said you get better by playing good teams. “We knew what Hagerstown had when we came here.” Uhte observed. “Many of our girls have played with some of theirs in the offseason. We knew they were good and that they would bring the heat. We want to play teams at this level. We improved today and we will work to continue to do so.” “We were excited to come here today.” Basile said. “We appreciate the fact that they were willing to let us see them in the regular season. We like to play good competition and they provide that. We made too many errors early and let them set the tone. Later in the match we did a better job of controlling our side of the court but credit to Hagerstown they kept constant pressure on our defense.”

Hagerstown 2, Richmond 0
It has been a long time since the last meeting between Wayne County schools Richmond and Hagerstown in Volleyball. Saturday the two schools renewed the series with the Tigers sweeping the match. It took a while for the Red Devils to adjust to the power game of the Tigers. Regan Tinkle served the Tigers to a quick 5-0 advantage in the first set. Jessica Swimm kept constant pressure on the Lady Devils as the Tigers quickly doubled the score at 18-9. The Devils fought back but the hole was too deep, and the Tigers cruised to a 25-17 win. The Lady Devils kept the second set much closer. The Tigers led for most of the set, but they couldn’t shake the ladies in red. The match was tied twelve times, with the Devils holding leads at 13-12 and 16-15 before the Tigers dialed up their intensity. With the set deadlocked at 18-18 the Tigers went on a 7-2 run to slam the door on the Devils and close out the match
Hagerstown (4-1) 25 25
Richmond (3-6) 17 20
Hagerstown Statistical Leaders—Assists-Hallie Rogers 24, Digs-Rogers 9, Ashley Vinson 8, Carli Morris 7, Kills-Jessica Swimm 10, Regan Tinkle 9.

Hagerstown 2, Triton Central 0
It is an honest difference of opinion. Triton Central thinks Tigers are green. Hagerstown thinks they are purple. When Triton Central came calling Saturday at Robert Clark Gymnasium it was the purple variety who prevailed. Triton Central and Hagerstown were both in the same Regional field a year ago, but they did not play each other. Saturday they finally crossed paths. In the first set Hagerstown raced to a 4-0 lead and never trailed.
The power combination of Jessica Swimm and Regan Tinkle kept them on their heels. The purple-clads built a 24-12 lead before Triton Central dug down and went on a 6-0 run. It was too little, too late as Swimm slammed the ball into the teeth of the green Tiger defense to end the set. Set two was more competitive with the teams deadlocked at 5-5 before Hagerstown started to pull away. The purple clads again pushed out to a 24-12 lead before Triton Central dug in and went on a 7-0 run to cut their deficit to 24-19. The next Triton Central kill attempt went sailing out of bounds to end the match.
Hagerstown (5-1) 25 25
Triton Central (5-3) 18 19
Hagerstown Statistical Leader—Assists-Rogers 23, Digs-Rogers 12, Morris 8, Swimm 7, Tinkle 7, Kills-Tinkle 11, Swimm 7.

Triton Central 2, Richmond 0
Two teams who did not want to go home without a win hooked up in the final match of the day. Triton Central was early aggressor in the first set. The girls in green jumped out to 9-1 lead and expanded it to 16-4 forcing a Red Devil time-out. The Devils started the slow climb back. They outscored the Tigers 18-6 to pull within 24-22 before the Tigers finally closed out the set. The second set was much closer. The Red Devils adjusted and dialed up their intensity. The set was tied eleven times, the last time at 19-19. The Tigers called on their experience against strong competition and closed out the set on a 6-2 run.
Triton Central (6-3) 25 25
Richmond (3-7) 22 21

At the conclusion of the matches Hagerstown Head Coach Brian Dale shared his thoughts. “At times we looked unbeatable,” Dale said. “at other times we showed that we can be vulnerable. But to beat Richmond and Triton Central back to back is no small feat. It was nice to play well against good competition. I though Regan (Tinkle) looked great. I thought Hallie (Rogers) looked like a collegiate setter at times. Jessica (Swimm) really hurt Richmond. We gave away too many points today, by not keeping the ball in the court, but overall I am pleased.”
The Hagertown JV team of Coach Betsy Swimm also defeated both Richmond and Triton Central.

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