Liberty secures county crown

After slow beginning, No. 9 Lions roar past South Carroll in 4 sets

Volleyball

High Schools

October 19, 2001|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A slow beginning for the No. 9 Liberty volleyball team last night may have spelled the end for rival South Carroll.

After dropping the first nine points of the match, the host Lions awoke from their haze to dominate the rest of the match in a 9-15, 15-8, 15-0, 15-7 win that clinched their first undisputed Carroll County title since 1996.

"We were playing horrendous," said hitter Becky Trumbo (14 kills). "We were killing the ball out of bounds. We were just like, `OK, we need to settle down and play like we know we can.' "

With the win, Liberty (11-0, 5-0 county) clinched sole position of the county title. The Lions had shared it with South Carroll in each of the past two seasons.

The Lions also find themselves in position to capture their first Central Maryland Conference title since 1997, are two games ahead of Thomas Johnson in the loss column with three to play and are a step closer to solidifying the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class 3A, West regional playoffs.

To get there, however, the Lions had to recover from an uncharacteristically slow beginning that saw them drop just their fourth game all season.

Missing three of their first four serves, the Lions fell behind quickly on the strength of strong hitting from South Carroll's Jen Ross and Amy Conner.

Trailing 9-0, however, Liberty completely turned the tide of the match, scoring 54 of the next 75 points, including 18 straight during one stretch. Trumbo, Lauren Ford (11 kills), Holly Steinaker (11 kills) and setter Laura Shand kept the Cavaliers (9-2, 2-2) consistently off balance by using the spike and dink with equal effectiveness, then taking advantage of numerous hitting miscues.

"We tried to mix it up," Liberty coach Dave Trumbo said. "When you keep hitting hard, their girls are so athletic that they keep picking everything up. It was a matter of our players reading where their players were, and that comes with playing and experience."

For South Carroll, the turn of events was inexplicable.

"To go out here and play as well as we did in the first game, then to play as bad as we did after that ... I can't explain it," South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton said. "Our weaknesses were the same weakness we've had all season. Serves let us down and intensity went from about 100 percent to 10 percent. I don't know why."

Trailing 1-0 in games, Liberty clinched the match by winning three straight games, including a 15-0 rout in the third game.

"That was pretty much a kick in the stomach," said Eaton.

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