The No. 1-ranked Dulaney Lions continued their unbeaten season with a three-set sweep of No. 12 Hereford (14-2) in the District V1 Baltimore County championship game.
The host Lions never trailed in the 25-16, 25-12, 25-14 victory that was the 15th in a row for the defending county champions.
Senior Darla Svoboda led the Lion attack with 18 kills and five aces and libero Melaney Nicholls anchored the defense with strong passing and a pair of back row kills that sparked the Lions early in the second set.
“I’ve been working on my back row attack and I just had to be ready,” said the 5-foot-4 senior.
“She hit from below the net,” said Dulaney coach Cary Lyon, who will miss her passing the most when she graduates along with Svoboda. “We are going to miss Darla next year, but I’m going to miss my libero just as much. My libero goes and gets everything.”
Svoboda had seven kills and Milan Amos added half of her eight kills in the first set, which was the closest of the night.
The Lions were leading 4-2 when a double block by sophomore Mallory Svoboda and Erin Briggs fired up the crowd and the Lions reeled off five straight points behind the pinpoint serving of Darla Svoboda.
Trailing 9-2, the Bulls rallied with a pair of kills by Kelly Cavey (team-high seven kills) leading the charge, but they never got closer than four points and the set ended on a kill off an assist from setter Alexis Howatt.
Nicholls started the second set with the back row kill and solo blocks by Howatt and Darla Svoboda followed before the Bulls got on the scoreboard.
Erin Briggs and Ce Ce Ukejianya added clutch blocks and the Lions pulled away in the set that also featured a rally where a ball deflected off the head of Nicholls.
“It hit the block and somebody tried to pass it and it hit my head and we got the point,” Nicholls said.
Hereford’s Kaja Bibaud had three kills and an ace in the third set, but it wasn’t enough to offset the balanced Lions, who got six kills from Darla Svoboda, four from Amos and three from Mallory Svoboda as they cruised to the victory.
“We needed to do a better job of getting a good pass up so we could get the ball to our strong hitters,” Hereford coach Dave Schreiner said. “We just didn’t do it consistently enough. “They have good hitters and they get sets where they want them to be. They are a good volleyball team.”
“They actually played a little better than the last time we played them, but we stepped it up to,” said Lyon, whose Lions defeated the Bulls 25-12, 25-16, 25-15 in the first meeting early in the season.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun