Liberty again defies pressure

2nd-game loss spurs young Lions to win over South Carroll for title


October 06, 2002|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Liberty's young volleyball team has developed the habit of playing better in pressure situations. The Lions displayed that trait once again yesterday in the final of the Carroll County tournament.

After a shaky performance in the second game of the best-of-three final against host South Carroll, No. 13 Liberty quickly refocused and used an 11-point run in the deciding game for an easy victory. The Lions came away with a 15-12, 5-15, 15-3 win and their second straight tournament championship.

Liberty coach Dave Trumbo's team has more sophomores (five) than any other team in the county. Trumbo said - smiling and his eyes rolling - that his Lions are unlike most younger teams in that they seem to rise to the moment.

"We're still young, but when there's urgency, they do better," Trumbo said. "We had so many hitting errors in the second game, but you have to go forward."

The Lions' errors in that second game helped South Carroll (7-5) reel off eight straight points for a 12-3 lead. Erika Swanson's serves proved too tough for the Lions during the first part of the run, and Dianne Murphy made some big plays at the net as the Cavaliers tied the match at 1-1.

But Liberty (8-1) looked like a different team in the third game. Allie Hammond served two aces as the Lions scored three straight points for a 3-1 lead. Liberty broke it open moments later with Laura Shand serving. The team's top setter, Shand used deep, line-drive serves to put the Cavaliers back on their heels and caused problems that helped Liberty score seven straight points and take an 11-1 lead.

Shand had two aces while senior classmate Emily McConville (five kills, two blocks) helped the Lions with a nice dink and a block at the net. Christina Yow (four kills) and Meghan McConville (eight kills, one block) helped Liberty dominate at the net and break the game open.

"We know South Carroll's a good team, and we wanted to get a jump in this game," Shand said. "We were definitely shooting ourselves in the foot in the second game. We definitely do much better under pressure, for some reason."

The Lions also did a much better job of blocking and shutting down Murphy at the net. Murphy had caused problems during the first part of the match, but Liberty double- and triple-teamed her at the net to make things difficult. It's one reason the Lions took the 10-point lead.

"We needed to start out on the right foot," Emily McConville said.

The Lions began the match by grinding out a 15-12 win in the first game. Sophomore Stacey Krebs made some big plays late to help Liberty break an 11-11 tie. Her dink gave the Lions the lead for good at 12-11, and she set up Shand's kill for the next point. Krebs' dink moments later gave Liberty its serve back and let the Lions score the final point.

South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton wasn't upset with her team's performance. The Cavaliers also extended the Lions to three games in Friday's first round of the tournament.

"I [think] we ended up about a half a game short," Eaton said. "Liberty has a good record, but we made them work hard."

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