S. Carroll surprises No. 12 Liberty

Defeat is Lions' first in county in two years


October 30, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

South Carroll volleyball coach Debbie Eaton knew her squad was capable of beating three-time Carroll County champion Liberty. Nearly three weeks after her Cavaliers blew a golden chance to do just that, they proved her correct.

Middle hitter Dianne Murphy had 14 kills and two blocks, helping the host Cavaliers hand the No. 12 Lions their first county defeat in more than two years, 12-15, 15-12, 15-9, 16-14, in the regular-season finale for both teams.

"We needed this one bad -- we really did," said Eaton, whose team had been the last in the county to beat the Lions, on Oct. 10, 2000. "I felt like we won the first match and gave it right back to them. This is a sweet win. We're a decent team, and we proved that tonight."

At times, however, the match was eerily reminiscent of the teams' first meeting earlier this month, when Liberty (11-3) survived four match points to win in five games.

This time, the Cavaliers led 8-1 in Game 1 before Liberty's Lauren Locklear held serve for nine straight points, leading the Lions to a 15-12 come-from-behind win.

It looked more of the same in Game 2, with South Carroll (7-7), paced by the strong back-row defense of Erika Swanson that continually set up easy chances for Murphy up front, building a 12-5 lead only to watch Liberty pull within 12-11 on Emily McConville's kill.

The Cavaliers, however, stood their ground, forcing a side out and scoring three of the last four points, including the final two on consecutive aces by Murphy.

"We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do this," Murphy said. "We all had our heads in the game and were focused. We tried to stay as positive as we could, and I think that's what helped us throughout the match."

South Carroll breezed to an easy victory in Game 3 before rallying from a 14-9 deficit in Game 4 and scoring seven straight points to take the game, and the match. Needing one point to force a fifth game, the Lions made five straight errors on game point, drawing the ire of coach Dave Trumbo.

"We had a lot of good balls, but we didn't do anything with them," Trumbo said. "Practice is not going to be so much fun."

Now, both teams must prepare for the Class 3A West playoffs, where they could meet again if both reach the final.

Top-seeded Liberty has an easier draw, getting a first-round bye before playing Blake or Linganore on Monday. South Carroll, a seventh seed, opens at home Friday against Kennedy.

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