Liberty digs down, beats S. Carroll

Behind 14-8 in 5th game, Lions able to regroup, top Cavaliers in thriller


October 11, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Playing with a sprained ankle and pulled muscle in her back, South Carroll senior Erika Swanson blocked out the pain for more than two hours last night, hammering kill after kill to help put the young Cavaliers in a strong position to hand host Liberty its first county loss in two years.

Seemingly on the brink of defeat, however, it was the No. 9 Lions volleyball team that erupted to deliver the most painful blow in a memorable 15-1, 13-15, 15-8, 12-15, 18-16 win.

The three-time defending county champion trailed 14-8 in the final game, but then survived four match points to send the rival Cavaliers back to Winfield with only a moral victory.

"That was the real mental part of the game right there," said Liberty setter Laura Shand. "We just stayed mentally focused. We knew this was going to be a big match - South Carroll is always a big match. We've been down that much before and come back, so it's something we were kind of used to."

The Lions (8-1 overall, 4-0 county, 4-0 Central Maryland Conference), in fact, faced a similar situation against Westminster in Saturday's county tournament semifinals, rallying from a 14-8 deficit in the second game to pull out the win.

"It's a tremendous confidence booster when you know you're down by that many and then you can come back and win," said coach Dave Trumbo, whose team last lost a county match on Oct. 10, 2000, against South Carroll.

Paced by sophomores Stacey Krebs (11 kills, six blocks) and Meghan McConville (10, one), and seniors Emily McConville (10, two) and Shand (six kills, four blocks, 26 assists), Liberty blew away South Carroll in an opening game that took just 11 minutes. But the Cavs came to life in Game 2, rallying from deficits of 6-3 and 13-12 to tie the match.

"We did a heck of a job to pull it out that second game, and for the rest of the match the confidence was on our side," Swanson said.

Later, trailing 2-1 in games, South Carroll (5-5, 2-3, 2-2) captured Game 4 before taking a 14-8 lead in Game 5, paced by Swanson, Dianne Murphy and Stephanie Scurci.

From then on, however, the junior-dominated Cavaliers let their nervousness show, missing on five of their next nine serves, including three of their first four on match point. Liberty back-row specialist Carly Mitchell also played a key role, saving ball after ball.

"I think the jitters and nerves really get to us then, and those are crucial points that we can't miss," Swanson said.

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