Liberty tops South Carroll, wins county championship

Unbeaten Lions ready `to take next step up'

Volleyball

October 29, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Completing what has become an annual ritual, the No. 7 Liberty volleyball team last night captured its fifth straight Carroll County championship, dismissing South Carroll, 26-24, 25-20, 25-15, to finish its regular season unbeaten.

Now, the hard part begins.

As the top seed in the Class 2A West region, the Lions, who have compiled a 39-3 regular-season record over the past three years, are set to begin postseason play with an eye on their first state championship.

Despite winning consecutive regional titles, Liberty has yet to go all the way. Last fall, the Lions fell to Mount Hebron in the state semifinals.

"In the past, we've gone into it knowing that we've taken the conference and the county, but now we need to take the next step up," said outside hitter Christina Yow, Liberty's lone senior. "You can't do that unless you continue to get better."

Said Liberty coach Dave Trumbo: "The season is over, but the new season starts. Nothing we ever did this year matters, because the next time we lose we go home."

After a first-round bye, Liberty (14-0) is scheduled to meet either Century or South Carroll next week in the second round. Tough Monocacy Valley Athletic League foes Francis Scott Key and Middletown are on the other side of the bracket, and one of them could face Liberty in the regional final.

To close out a perfect regular season, the Lions first had to get past a game South Carroll squad that defeated them in last year's regular-season finale.

Paced by junior hitters Meghan McConville (14 kills) and Stacey Krebs (nine kills), Liberty rebounded from early serving troubles to capture the opening game by scoring the final four points, including the final two on shots by Yow.

Led by the hitting of Stephanie Scurci and Melissa Axtell, South Carroll (8-6) led in all three games, but ultimately hurt its own cause with sloppy passing.

For the Cavaliers, which open the 2A playoffs at 5 p.m. Friday at Century, the match was solid preparation for the postseason.

"This was a good way for us to go into the playoffs," said Cavaliers coach Debbie Eaton, whose team lost to Century earlier this season. "If we play this way against Century, we should beat them."

For Liberty, the challenge now will be taking the next step. Still, the magnitude of winning their home county for five straight years will not soon be lost on the Lions.

"It means a lot," Trumbo said. "It's one of the things we really point toward."

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