Once slow-starting North Carroll warmed up, this volleyball match was never close.
The Panthers stormed back to win three straight games last night against a reeling Westminster team on the way to a 13-15, 15-13, 15-7, 15-5 victory that moved North Carroll closer to the Carroll County and Central Maryland Conference championships.
The Panthers (10-4 overall, 8-3 in the CMC) will meet Liberty tomorrow night at Liberty in a winner-take-all duel for the county and CMC titles.
North Carroll coach Linda Richards was happy with the comeback but she remained puzzled over her team's slow start.
"We've done this all season," said Richards. "No matter what I do in the first game, we seem to have trouble. One night my setter is cold and the next night somebody else will be off."
But once the Panthers got rolling, Richards said it was an easy game to coach.
"We have no fancy strategy," said Richards. "We just try to do the simple little things and let Joy Huber do the rest."
Huber put on a spiking exhibition most of the evening and consistently halted the Owls (6-7) from making any point runs.
After Westminster won the first game, 15-13, on a Beth Lister spike, Huber took over the match.
About the only thing the redheaded junior didn't do in spectacular style was serve.
"Joy is such a good hitter but she still needs to improve her serve," said Richards. "She is talented enough to become a good server."
Katy Wilhelm and Lisa Salter took turns over the last three games running off service points.
Salter served for seven straight points in the second game to send North Carroll ahead, 9-6, after the Owls had jumped off to a 6-2 lead. The Panthers wound up winning the second game, 15-13, on a Huber spike.
In the third game, Wilhelm went on a seven-point tear to usher North Carroll to a 14-6 lead and eventual 15-7 win. Salter won the second game with a slightly spectacular serve that was beyond the front line and out of Jaime Wheat's reach on the back line.
Then North Carroll wrapped it up with a 15-5 romp that featured nearly everyone joining in the serving fun.
Over the last three games, Westminster ran into serving problems and made several unforced errors.
"We had poor movement and didn't play our game," said Owls coach Karol Brown. "We waited for them to do it [go for points]. They wanted it more than we did."
In all, Brown said she expected more from the Owls this season.
"We had the talent but couldn't get it together," she said.