Mount Hebron volleyball coach Jeannine McCrumb has tried every shuffle, every switch, every strategy in an attempt to lift her fifth-ranked team over the level of mediocrity.
Last night at Atholton, the three-time defending state champion was just high enough.
The 11th-ranked Raiders took Mount Hebron to the limit, winning 27 of 32 points during one streak before the Vikings rallied for a 15-9, 3-15, 14-16, 15-11, 15-12 victory.
McCrumb says it's a matter of confidence, or lack of it.
"When we start to get down, a team can roll right over us," said McCrumb. "You try to call timeouts and shift the lineup around, but it's just a lack of confidence."
Part of that may be attributed to last Thursday's three-game loss to Centennial. Players said that the Vikings (4-2 overall and in the Howard County League) were drained emotionally after playing well against the Eagles last week, yet not winning a single game.
"We didn't come into this gym pumped to play," said the Vikings' Kelly Quinn, whose 18 kills was the most of any hitter. "No one was talking out there, and we just didn't have the right attitude.
"It is a nice boost after the loss, though."
After winning the first game, Mount Hebron suffered a collapse. Missed hits, mental errors and stellar play from Atholton helped the Raiders win the first nine points of Game 2, and go on to a 15-3 victory.
Atholton's Robin McGraw (16 kills) stepped to the forefront during the game, serving well and dominating play at the net.
After Hebron broke out to a 2-0 lead in the third game, it was more of the same, as the Raiders (3-4, 3-3) won 12 straight points before holding on for a 16-14 win.
But after that, the Vikings took command. Juniors Kathy Doyle and Lia Kaltreider each had nine kills for Mount Hebron, and sophomore Sarah Nichols was 23-for-23 on serves, keeping her season average at 100 percent (50-for-50).
After taking a 2-1 lead in games, Atholton couldn't handle being in front, according to coach Jon Peterson.
"We had [sixth-ranked] Glenelg down two games to one in our gym; we had this team up two games to one," said Peterson. "We hear about how great these teams are, and get excited because we're ahead. The adrenalin is flowing and we're expending a lot of energy.
"All of the sudden, we start to get tired and make mistakes. I think that's what happenned tonight."