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Liberty volleyball’s ‘two guns’ help Lions top Winters Mill, net rookie coach her first career win

Unable to take the court as a player once more after her senior campaign at McDaniel College was canceled because of COVID-19, Emma Lorenzen did the next best thing to stay involved in the game by becoming the varsity volleyball coach this season at Liberty High School.

After a pair of setbacks to start her inaugural season, Lorenzen, a Hagerstown native who brings club coaching experience to the Lions program, recorded her first high school victory with a 25-19, 25-12, 25-13 win against previously unbeaten Winters Mill on Tuesday.

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“I was super pumped,” Lorenzen said after the match. “We had a really tough opening week (against reigning county champion Westminster and Class 2A state champion Century). We should be more competitive in the rest of our matches.”

Liberty's Maria Bald sets the ball in front of WInters Mill's Riley Morano during the first game of their match in Eldersburg Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
Liberty's Maria Bald sets the ball in front of WInters Mill's Riley Morano during the first game of their match in Eldersburg Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Dylan Slagle)

After a nip-and-tuck opening set, Liberty (1-2) looked dominant behind the net play of sophomore Sarah Hart and senior Emma Von Riegen, and the passing of seniors Maria Bald and Shelby Walters.

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“They are my two guns in the front row,” Lorenzen said of Hart and Riegen.

Von Riegen (14 kills) and Hart (12) did most of their damage from the left outside hitter position, constantly placing the ball through or around Winters Mill blockers, including the match-winning strike by Von Riegen that caromed off a backline player and out of reach.

“I think we were our most confident today going on the court and we played as a team,” said Von Riegen, an outside hitter. “I think me and Sarah did a really good job of finding the open spaces and being aggressive when we were striking.”

Bald handed out 26 assists, and Hart added eight digs. Von Riegen pitched in with five digs.

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Liberty grabbed a tight, back-and-forth first set, pulling ahead and winning on three kills by Hart and a game-winning ace from Walters.

The play of Von Riegen and Hart, who combined for nine kills in this game, propelled the Lions to an easier victory in the second set in what was as lopsided as the first set was tight-knit.

Liberty jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the final set with a pair of kills by Hart and Von Riegen and the serving of Hart and never looked back en route to the decisive 12-point win.

Liberty's Maria Bald and WInters Mill's Allison Louque meet at the net during the second game of their match in Eldersburg Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
Liberty's Maria Bald and WInters Mill's Allison Louque meet at the net during the second game of their match in Eldersburg Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Dylan Slagle)

Logan Brengle and Staci Kutzler had five kills each for Winters Mill.

“It was a lack of communication, " Falcons coach Kari Totten said of her team’s woes, which included a handful of unforced errors on errant serves and passes. The Falcons dropped their first match of the season.

“We just stopped talking,” Totten said. “When we talk, we play really well.”

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