Every volleyball team wants to seize the momentum quickly, and that's what No. 1 Liberty did in last night's regional final against North Hagerstown.
The host Lions jumped out to a 15-1 first-game lead thanks in part to four Stacey Krebs kills. That set the tone for a 25-8, 25-9, 25-20 victory for their fourth straight Class 2A West region title.
The defending Class 2A state champs will meet No. 15 Reservoir in the state semifinals Wednesday night at CCBC-Essex. The title match is set for next Saturday at noon at the University of Maryland.
In dispatching the Hubs (16-3) last night, the Lions improved to 17-0 and won their 36th straight match. They have not lost since the 2002 state semifinals.
After the Lions swept North Hagerstown during the regular season, the Hubs thought the revenge factor would provide some momentum for them, said senior Tracy Hinkle.
"They beat us in our gym, so we were excited and ready to go, but the fire wasn't there from the beginning," said Hinkle. "They put it out really quickly."
Lions setter Lauren Locklear, who had 16 assists and seven kills, said a quick start gives a team a psychological edge.
"Once you get down and lose the first game, it's so hard to come back," said Locklear, "because you realize how good the other team can be. But it was kind of scary, too, because the only place they had to go was up, so we had to stay on our toes."
The Lions bolted to a 14-3 lead in the second game and finished that off fairly easily, but the Hubs proved more of a challenge in the third game.
Locklear played a key role in the final game. The Hubs defense played back to dig the deep hits from the All-Metro duo of Krebs and Meghan McConville, so Locklear dumped at least five balls into a huge opening in the middle of the court.
Perhaps her biggest play came after the Hubs had trimmed Liberty's lead to 23-19 on two straight blocks. Locklear dumped the ball short - a critical play with Krebs and McConville in the back row.
After the Lions netted a serve to make the score 24-20, Krebs came to the front row and finished off the match with a kill.