Weary Liberty regroups for win

No. 2 Lions hold off No. 4 St. Paul's in five


October 24, 2006|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Coming off a five-day period in which his team lost its first match of the season to Thomas Johnson, then played four matches in a weekend tournament, Liberty coach Dave Trumbo was concerned about the Lions' stamina heading into last night's showdown with No. 4 St. Paul's.

He needn't have worried - much.

After looking a bit fatigued in dropping consecutive games, host No. 2 Liberty regrouped to dominate the fifth game in a 25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 17-25, 15-6 win.

"We had started to lose our confidence a little bit, but in the fifth game we knew we had to step up right away," said Liberty outside hitter Melissa Stansbury. "We had to stick together and just push through it."

Stansbury, who led all players with 19 kills, was a huge part of that. Liberty (11-1) used consecutive aces by Caitlin Poff to grab an early 5-2 lead in the game, then captured all of the momentum on the next point, when Stansbury stuffed an attempted spike by sophomore Bailey Webster.

The win gave Liberty the inside track to the top seed in the Class 2A West playoffs, and home court throughout the regionals. The Lions can clinch the seed with a win over North Carroll on Thursday.

First, however, they had to survive a St. Paul's team that recovered from a shaky start to climb back into the match through the big hitting of junior Bailey Griswold (15 kills) and Webster (13 kills, four blocks).

"I'll take a loss playing like that any day," said St. Paul's coach Kelli Wilkinson, whose team (17-2) had only previously lost to Washington-area power Good Counsel.

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