Liberty, Westminster, N. Carroll will struggle for the top spot AH County fight could go down to the wire

September 06, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

You have to take a step backward in time before you can go forward in anticipation of what's in store for the upcoming county volleyball season.

The date was Oct. 8 of last year when North Carroll visited Liberty in the two teams' first meeting against one another.

The Panthers had a string of county wins dating back to late in the 1988 season. The hungry Lions had this date marked on their calendar the day the schedules came out.

The outcome was evident early as the Lions rolled to a three-game sweep. They would add an exclamation point in the regular-season finale with another sweep -- this time at North Carroll.

The Lions went on to make an appearance in the state tournament, while North Carroll made an uncharacteristic early exit in the regional playoffs.

All the while, Westminster had a pretty fine season of its own -- finishing up at 10-5.

L Which brings us to an upcoming season filled with questions.

Can the Panthers regroup and become the dominating team they once were not so long ago? Should the red carpet be rolled out for the Lions the next couple of years? Can the Westminster Owls sneak up on both and be the team to beat?

There may just be an incredible amount of parity this year in county volleyball.

One thing that will be missing is a dominating county player, as has been the case in prior years.

Last year it was Kelly Foreman, who carried Liberty to the county title. Lisa Garland played a major role in North Carroll's two prior successful seasons. Both were powerful net players who could take over a game all by themselves.

"I think teams are going to have to rely more on teamwork this year," Liberty coach Helen Derwin said.

"It also will be a good chance for a few young players to stick out. I think we have a few right now who people may not know about."

Derwin believes the Lions will again be in the thick of the county and Central Maryland Conference race.

"I feel I have a lot to work with but have to work a lot with them," she said.

"I think we'll hang in with everybody. My biggest problem is a lack of height. Front line defense remains a question."

At Westminster, coach Karol Brown is looking for more aggressive play and consistency from her Owls.

The Owls lost a lot of five-game matches a year ago. Brown is looking to turn those losses into wins this season.

"Our biggest downfall is our lack of confidence, but we're working hard on changing that," Brown said.

"We played a lot of marathon matches last year where we went up two games and lost in five. We have to win those games this year."

"Whoever's going to be the most consistent and make fewest mistakes will come out on top [in the county race]."

The Panthers are trying to get back on track by going back to the basics.

Richards would like to make sure the Panthers' 1991 8-7 campaign was one of exception rather than the norm.

"It was not a typical North Carroll year and our kids know it," she said.

"They seem to be working harder this year and have shown a desire to get back on top."

Setting was the big question mark for the Panthers last season and Richards is hoping senior Lisa Sauter will be the answer this season. The two top hitters back are senior Meghan Moore and junior Joy Huber.

South Carroll coach Debbie Barnes knows the Cavaliers have their work cut out for them after a winless season a year ago but does have hope.

"The kids are excited about the season and seem to be having a lot of fun," Barnes said.

"We're not going to be a powerhouse or anything, but if we play up to our capabilities, we're capable of a .500 season."

The Francis Scott Key Eagles have eight seniors returning from last year's 9-6 team, and coach Leo Totten believes the squad could challenge for the Monocacy Valley Athletic League title.

"This group has been together for four years now and the teamwork is really coming together," Totten said.

"The team balance is going to be the key. Everybody can hit and everybody can set."

The Carroll Christian Patriots opened their season on a high note Tuesday with a 16-14, 15-10 win at Grace in Valley Christian Conference action. Six seniors are back, led by tri-captains Kellie Sullivan, Kristine Mann and Michelle Staner.

"They're like coaches on the court," Meid said.

"There are very few seniors who would take the time to help out the younger players, but this group of seniors has been very supportive and helpful towards the younger players. The program is really beginning to boom."

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