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2018 Mid-Penn Boys Volleyball All-Stars (copy)

Cumberland Valley's Blake Liprando led the Eagles with 16 kills in Thursday's win over Carlisle

SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — Teams are typically made up of a few types of players, including the big names who get all the publicity.

But successful teams don’t survive without role players. In basketball, it might be a defensive specialist or a rebounder. Volleyball teams aren’t successful without a top-notch setter.

Every team needs role players, but the setter is typically the most important and the quarterback of a high-powered offense. In Cumberland Valley’s case, the top ranked boys team in District 3, Sam Briggs has been handed the keys to the new car.

A first-year varsity setter, the soft-spoken junior has big shoes to fill.

“Sam has really stepped up for us this year and has learned the game,” senior Blake Liprando said. “He has very good hands and he has gotten better each game. We don’t need anything special from our setter — just consistency — and Sam has been a key as to why we are unbeaten and where we are right now.”

“Sam has improved every game — got the jitters out early, but he is playing with guys that are so positive and helpful,” Eagles head coach Terry Ranck said. “We tend to go to Blake a lot, but there is nothing wrong with that. Blake is Sam’s safety net, especially on the back line. He is coming along, and he played some club ball (with Yorktowne) in the offseason and picked up some experience, and it is starting to show.”

Spreading the ball helped Thursday night against Carlisle as six different Eagles had kills in the contest. Cumberland Valley (11-0, 8-0 Commonwealth) continued its unbeaten season with a three-set sweep of the Herd (25-13, 25-21, and 25-18) at the Eagle Dome.

Briggs dished out 27 assists in the three-set sweep, including 16 to Saint Francis-bound Liprando, who also had six digs and three blocks.

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“My job as a setter is to run the offense, and I have to tell everybody where they need to be,” Briggs said. “It is based upon matchups and the defense the other team is playing. Of course, it helps to have Blake Liprando out there, but I try to spread the ball around, based upon the defense or a strong matchup on offense.

“I don’t want to be unrealistic, but I would love to have a perfect game some night, but we will make mistakes,” Briggs said later. “It was a big adjustment from JV’s last year — the speed of the game and the hitters are better. We just need to take one game at a time and focus on each point because we know that bullseye is on our backs.”

Carlisle (7-7, 3-6) didn’t adjust well out of the gate in the first set but made some changes in Set 2 and led several times. But the Eagles scored 10 of the final 15 points to take a 2-0 lead.

Poor serving hurt the Thundering Herd in the final set as they served six balls long or in the net. They totaled 12 missed serves on the night.

“That was typical Cumberland Valley — you give them some space and they will hurt you,” Herd coach Dan Hoy said. “They have too many weapons. Blake didn’t hurt us as much the first time, but he was big tonight.”

Sam Candland (11 kills) and Xavier Kellam (25 assists) did their best to slow the Eagles down, but it was not enough. The best play of the night might have been when a ball went over the net and Kellam stuffed it down on two Eagles for the point.

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