Coach Dave Trumbo's Liberty volleyball team hasn't lost to a Carroll County opponent since 2002. With eight new players on the roster, however, the Lions spent the bulk of the preseason trying to regain their confidence.
Trumbo said that the Lions, who are shooting for their eighth straight county title and fourth consecutive trip to the Class 2A state final, "just got blasted" by a couple of the area's stronger teams in the early portion of a recent 12-team play-day at Centennial High School, in which teams faced off for 12-minute intervals.
"It really woke the kids up as to how hard they have to play," Trumbo said. "By the end of the day, we played Centennial fairly even and held our own with [top] teams like Towson, Severna Park and River Hill."
The team features a quartet of talented seniors and eight players who weren't on the varsity a year ago. Back in the fold are second-team All-Metro outside hitter Melissa Stansbury; second-team All-County outside hitter Sam Walters; setter Ashleigh Swiontek, a defensive specialist last season; and 6-foot-1 middle hitter Alex Mercer, who recorded six blocks in the team's opener against North Hagerstown.
Trumbo said 5-11 sophomore Amanda McCracken has been a pleasant surprise after stepping into the lineup at middle hitter.
"I've got four kids who know what they're doing and eight kids I'm teaching," Trumbo said. "It's about having an attitude and a confidence that you know you're going to win, and that it's OK to make mistakes."
Liberty got off to a 2-0 start and is 57-2 over the past three years.
Hot start for Cavs
After finishing 5-10 a year ago, the South Carroll field hockey team has opened eyes in area field hockey circles by beginning its season with a pair of upsets.
The Cavaliers opened with a 1-0 win over No. 13 Glenelg, then followed with a 2-1 win over No. 10 North Carroll.
"We started off the season good because we did preseason conditioning and they all showed up," coach Brenda Strohmer said. "Now, they're ready for it. They're intense. ... They have the heart, and I haven't seen that in a while."
Strohmer said the biggest difference has been the team's intensity, along with the play of goalie Brigid McTavish, who had 18 saves against North Carroll.
Against the Panthers, the Cavaliers trailed 1-0 at halftime before dominating after the break.
"I told them, `You're not playing like a team that wants to win,' " Strohmer said. "They went out there and scored those two goals, and I was just like, `Wow.'"
Athletes carry Owls
Coach Byron Moore acknowledges that his Westminster girls soccer team may not be the most technically proficient in the county. But in terms of athleticism, the Owls are hard to beat.
With a roster full of standouts from other sports, Westminster has overcome its lack of sport-specific skills to start the season 2-1.
"We're not the most technically sound, but we're very capable athletically," said Moore, who played all 20 players in each of the first three games, including a 3-2 overtime loss to Leonardtown. "What that tells me is I've got a very deep bench. When you can play all 20 of your players in an overtime game, you feel pretty good."
Standouts included Kristen Bailey and Alex Held, who each scored two goals in the first week. Sophomore Cassie Cooke had three goals and an assist in a 6-0 win over Francis Scott Key.
Westminster will be tested against South Carroll on Tuesday.
To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports@comcast.net.