Mt. Hebron has rags-to-riches year Vikings capture third straight title

November 25, 1992|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

It was a riches-to-rags-to-riches story that would have turned Hollywood on its ear. Instead, it turned the Howard County volleyball scene upside down.

The Mount Hebron volleyball team, Class 2A state champions in 1991, entered this season with low expectations after losing five key starters. True to form, the Vikings went 3-4 to open the season.

The players -- mostly sophomores and juniors -- became frustrated. The coach began to have her doubts. Pretty soon, winning the state title seemed like a distant memory.

"I was frustrated," said third-year coach Jeannine McCrumb. "I didn't think we were playing up to our ability."

But something happenned around mid-October that changed the complexion of their season -- they learned to play together.

From then on, the Vikings won 11 of their last 12 matches, made the playoffs by less than a point and came back from a 2-1 deficit in the state title match to defeat North Caroline and win their third straight championship.

Sound like a plot for an action-adventure thriller? For McCrumb, it was more like a coming-of-age drama.

"I think a lot of our early problems were because we weren't VTC used to playing together," said McCrumb, whose team finished 14-5. "I knew I lost a lot [from last year], but I still had some decent players."

The only two seniors on the team were Meg Waterfield and Kai Scott. Of the 12 players on the Vikings' roster, six were sophomores. If this team was to turn things around, it would have to come of age well before its time.

Scott, however, was one of the most precise setters in the state. And after a midseason lineup switch that flip-flopped outside-hitter Kathy Doyle and middle-hitter Lia Kaltreider, the Vikings were almost unstoppable.

Sophomores Dani Vissers and Kelly Quinn soon also stepped to the forefront.

It wasn't until a month into the season, however, that Mount Hebron showed its potential. Down 2-0 to perennial Howard County power Centennial, the Vikings played a brilliant third game and got away with a 15-10 win.

It didn't seem to matter that they got blown out in the fourth and final game. The damage had been done.

"That was a big up for us. We really played well," said McCrumb.

Then, three straight victories later, they defeated Glenelg, one of the top teams in the county, in four games, in what McCrumb calls "the turning point" of the season.

"We practiced hard for that one."

The only loss in the second half of their season came to Centennial. One more loss and their chances of making the playoffs would have gone down dramatically.

"I guess we peaked at the right time," said McCrumb. "We learned to communicate and became more patient as a team."

With four championships in her five years of coaching, she has good reason to feel such a comfort zone. In her two years as coach of the junior varsity, her team won the county title once and finished runner-up to Centennial.

During her tenure as varsity coach, the Vikings have won the state title all three years.

"It's just luck, I guess," said the 1982 Centennial graduate.

But Mount Hebron accomplished more this season than she could have imagined.

"I think we did a heck of a lot," she said. "Early on, I really didn't think we had a chance. We came a long way."

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