Last year, South Carroll swept Liberty out of the Class 3A West regional, and last night, the visiting Lions returned the favor.
Liberty (14-3) won, 15-9, 15-9, 15-10, rallying from a 10-4 deficit to put away the last game. It was the team's ninth win in its last 10 matches.
The Lions, who have taken two of their three playoff wins on the road, will be home for the regional final at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
South Carroll (5-11) showed an excellent defense, but its offense is just not as strong as in recent seasons, and that created problems for Liberty.
"The game was played at a slower tempo than we're used to, and we had to generate our own offense," Liberty coach Dave Trumbo said. "We did what it took to win, but even though the players were telling each other to be intense, it's tough to do.
Down 10-4 in the third, junior Sheri Geiger came in to serve. She served only eight times all night but got seven points, including four aces, to forge a lead. Laurie Meadows did the rest, serving out the match.
"Geiger was really sharp," Trumbo explained of her setting up the opposition, serving one short, sticking one in a corner, serving right at a new sub, and going back to a corner.
The Lions' two middle hitters -- Emily Stuard and Abby Barnett -- had to work for their points, especially Stuard, who was confronted some times by as many as two or three blockers.
Stuard ended with nine kills, Barnett, eight, and Meadows had 15 assists for kills to go with 17 service points that included four aces. Each of the three is a solid player in her own right, but as Trumbo said, "We need both of them to play well."
Stuard explained, "We go against each other in practice and each of us is happy when the other makes a good play. We make each other stronger. As a result, we have two good middle hitters we can run the offense around. Most of the teams we play have only one.
"Here, it was tough, because we're used to backing up to take hard hits, and they weren't there."
Trumbo will take the victory, but he can see the future.
"South Carroll has some good young players," he said. "It won't be long, and you'll have to earn everything you get against them. They are going to be good. They just need experience."
Francis Scott Key 3, Urbana 0: Jessica Broderick had nine kills, and Carrie Ness added 14 service points as the Eagles (10-6) advanced to the Class 3A West finals, 16-14, 15-10, 15-5.
Severna Park 3, Queen Anne's 1: Julie Gosewisch had 24 kills and was 24-of-25 serving with four aces as the visiting Falcons (17-1) handed the Lions (16-1) their first loss of the season in the semifinals of the Class 4A East playoffs.
South River 3, Parkside 1: Jessica Freeman had five kills and Caroline Tippett added four more as the Seahawks (10-6) advanced to the 2A East finals with a 15-13, 15-6, 15-6 win.
Patuxent 3, Northeast-AA 0: Rachel Ciurca was 5-for-5 serving, with four assists and a kill, but could not push the Eagles (4-11) past Patuxent in the Class 3A East semifinals.
No. 10 Annapolis 3, Glen Burnie 1: Kammi Cottrell and Emily Dammeyer combined for 16 kills as the host Panthers (14-1) advanced to their first Class 4A East Region final. Kisha Taylor was 18-of-19 serving for Annapolis, which plays at Severna Park 6 p.m. Friday.
No. 5 Dulaney 3, Patterson 0: The host Lions (16-1) lost only two points on the way to an easy win in the Class 4A North semifinals.
Pub Date: 11/06/97