Liberty makes the Rockets glare with easy region win Stuard dominates at net for Lions in 3-game sweep lasting just 55 minutes

November 08, 1997|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Emily Stuard helped Liberty show visiting Richard Montgomery the importance of power in volleyball last night.

Stuard dominated play at the net with nine kills and seven blocks, and Richard Montgomery could do little to stop her as Liberty needed only 55 minutes to score a 15-1, 15-12, 15-2 victory in the Class 3A West region final.

This was the first region championship for Liberty (15-3) since 1991. The Lions advance to the Class 3A state semifinal Wednesday at 6 or 8 p.m. at Essex Community College against Northern-Calvert.

The Lions carried a large advantage in size and strength into this match, but they knew Richard Montgomery (11-7) could play solid defense and force them to work. The Rockets' playoff sweep of North Carroll showed that.

Still, Liberty dominated this match from start to finish. The Rockets never could do anything to stop Stuard. She ruled play at the net from the first point to the last.

Said Liberty coach Dave Trumbo: "We wanted to pound the ball. I said [before the match] there's no need to dink against them, because they didn't have any blocking."

The small Rockets had some good stretches of defense, but in the end hurt themselves with too many unforced errors, and they could not charge up their offense.

The errors, combined with the play of Stuard and Abby Barnett (four kills) at the net, plus help from Shen Poehlman, Laurie Meadows, Jen Bruce, Beth Modracek and others, left the Rockets with little chance to do anything.

"We kept hitting and hitting," said Stuard. "We were really psyched."

So was the Liberty crowd. The Eldersburg faithful roared throughout the match, which seemed at times to shake up Richard Montgomery. The Rockets arrived just 25 minutes before the match, and coach Elmer Matlock agreed that his players never seemed to get going.

"We were tight from beginning to end," said Matlock. "We couldn't get into a rhythm."

Liberty blitzed Richard Montgomery in 13 minutes in the first game. The Rockets never got settled defensively, making numerous unforced errors and falling, 15-1.

The Rockets could not stop Stuard in that game, as she made some timely blocks and kills. The Lions scored the game's first six points -- and then the final nine.

The Rockets appeared more settled in the second game, taking a 7-4 lead behind Joyce Chen's good serving. But Barnett and Modracek helped the Lions go on a 10-2 run that gave them control.

Liberty's biggest problem came during the celebration at the end when Stuard collided with a teammate and hurt her right ankle -- but not badly enough to worry about, she said.

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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