Wall leads N. Carroll to sweep of Liberty Panthers are impressive in 15-12, 15-2, 16-14 win


October 01, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

North Carroll and Liberty, two of the best teams in Carroll County, were both coming off losses when they met in Hampstead last night. Their schedules reflected mixed results, as Liberty was 5-1 and North Carroll 4-2.

As is often the case in such situations, it comes down to which team shows up, and it is something coaches can do little about.

North Carroll, still smarting from a Central Maryland Conference loss to leader Thomas Johnson in a match that went to 16-14 in the fifth game last week, bounced back with an impressive three-game sweep of the Lions, 15-12, 15-2, 16-14.

Regardless of which side had won, the outcome would provide fuel for the county tournament, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Liberty. Not only does it give Francis Scott Key a chance at the other county teams, but, ironically, North Carroll and Liberty are due to open the round-robin event Friday afternoon.

Perhaps more importantly, the two will have a return engagement in Eldersburg in the last match of the regular season. It could be for the county title.

"I wouldn't have expected 3-0 either way," North Carroll coach Lloyd Ford said. "It just seemed like we got on a run. However, we beat a quality team and it makes the weekend tournament wide open."

Junior hitter Kate Wall, who came up big when most needed, said, "We looked at Liberty as the best team, and we knew we had to win if we wanted to go anywhere."

Wall served the last two points of the first game after the Panthers had rallied from 10-12. In the second game, the home team scored the first five points and the last eight in a wipeout. Then, from 11-14 in the third, she helped account for her side's winning burst.

Included was a series of hits, tips, and finding open spaces. As Ford said, "She rose to the occasion. There were a lot of big plays, and she hit, covered the floor well and served. She's our go-to player, and she did everything we asked of her."

Of the span that saw her team outscore the opposition, 20-2, Wall said, "That was when the crowd got into it. You could feel the momentum swing," and it never really went back the other way.

Possessions see-sawed in the third game, although Liberty was the team to hold the lead, as it built margins of 8-6, 9-7, 11-8, and 13-9. From 14-11, it simply could not get the critical point. Sara Clark got the hit that turned the ball over to North Carroll, and then her serves helped set up Wall.

"We're a team on and off the court," Wall said. "In matches, I depend on my teammates. We help each other."

"We were not excited; there wasn't any emotion," losing coach Dave Trumbo declared. "We tried to mix things up, but they had good defense and transition offense. Against Westminster [a loss in four games last week], we did not pass well, and this time we did not pass well. Obviously, it is something you have to have for good ball movement.

"There will be some soul-searching over this one."

Pub Date: 10/01/97

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