Heading into Tuesday's match with Mt. Hebron, the only team that had yet to lose a match in Howard County league play, Glenelg coach Jason Monjes got the news that no coach wanted to hear: his star player was sick.
Two-time all-county first-teamer Morgan Perry, who has recorded more than 350 kills in the past two seasons, was under the weather and had to play sparingly.
But Monjes had a back-up plan.
Sarah Girard (8 kills, 9 digs, 6 aces) and Carolyn Stacey (4 kills, 6 digs) stepped to the forefront to lead the Gladiators to a 25-14, 25-22, 25-22 victory.
"I was really happy for Carolyn Stacey to step up, she showed me that she belongs out there … we're not going to win with four to six girls, we've got to win with all 12 girls ready," Monjes said. "Caroline was the big factor, if she doesn't play like that, this match is different."
Girard, whose younger sister, Rachael, is the team's setter, plays defense during club season and was a right side hitter last year before transitioning to outside hitter this season.
"It was hard playing without (Morgan) because she's usually our main hitter, but everyone pulled through," Sarah Girard said. "I knew I had to step up and be loud, and encourage everyone because without Morgan we're a little lost, but we just had to have someone to be the voice of the team."
Mt. Hebron, which lost to county-rival Howard in the semifinals of the Thomas Johnson Invitational tournament over the weekend, never got into a groove at the service line.
"We did not serve anywhere to the level we normally serve," coach Michael Moynihan said. "They're a great team, their offense is strong, their defense was incredible. They were the better team today and our defense struggled. Our hitters are amazing — Marissa Duncan, Reeana Richardson and Ravyn Richardson — if we get the ball to our setters it's almost unstoppable. I hope to play them again sometime."
The Vikings battled back to tie the second set, 22-22, and cut the lead in the third set to 23-22, but could never overcome the Gladiators.
Glenelg, Howard, Mt. Hebron, River Hill and Wilde Lake have now lost one league match each.
Since losing to River Hill on Sept. 24, Glenelg has now swept its last two opponents.
"That just made us try harder in practice and made us realize that when we want to play better we really can," Girard said. "We just have to be determined and focus all of the time."
Around the league
Atholton 3, Hammond 1
Centennial 3, Long Reach 0
Howard 3, Oakland Mills 0
River Hill 3, Marriotts Ridge 0
Wilde Lake 3, Reservoir 1
Mount Carmel 3, Glenelg Country 0
Alexis Foxwell led the Dragonas with 9 kills and was 11-for-11 serving with five aces.