Mount Hebron and Hammond probably are headed for next week's Class 2A, Region II volleyball playoffs, although neither team played that way last night.
In an exercise dominated by defensive lapses, sloppy service and the kinds of mental mistakes that drive coaches crazy, Mount Hebron rebounded from a poor start to win three straight games and take a 7-15, 15-8, 15-13, 15-10 victory at Hammond.
The victory pulled the Vikings (9-5, 8-5) into a third-place tie with Hammond (9-5, 8-5) in the county standings. More importantly, the Vikings remained alive in their quest for a regional playoff berth. They must win tonight against Atholton to ensure a fourth-seed berth. A victory over Oakland Mills tonight would likely give Hammond a third seed in Region II.
Neither team had much to celebrate last night.
"I'm frustrated, because I just can't get them fired up, and I don't know what to say to them," said Hebron coach Jeannine McCrumb, who watched the Vikings sleepwalk through a 15-7 loss in the opening game, then tried a new approach.
"I told them, 'I can't play the game for them.' They've got to want it. And I didn't say anything else after that. We still played [badly], but at least we played well enough to win. We should have crushed them [Hammond]."
Here's how ugly the Vikings won. They committed five service errors, but still cruised to a 15-8 victory in the second game. In the third game, they turned a 9-5 deficit into a 12-9 lead, only to fall behind 13-12 before overcoming their fourth service error to take a 15-13 decision that turned the match around.
They couldn't even put the Bears away cleanly after taking a 6-2 lead, while Hammond was still reeling from its crushing defeat in the previous game. Hammond eventually tied the game at 9-all, before the Vikings went on a 6-1 run to finish the match.