When the pressure was on, so was Loch Raven.
The second-ranked Raiders got hot when it counted for a 15-11, 15-12, 15-9 victory over No. 9 Catonsville in a Baltimore County 1A-2A League match last night at Loch Raven.
Loch Raven (9-0, 6-0) outscored Catonsville (8-2, 7-1) by a 10-2 count for a come-from-behind victory in the first game.
The Raiders scored the final seven points of Game 2 and closed out the match by scoring six of the last eight points in Game 3.
"You never know how a team's going to respond to pressure," said Loch Raven coach Carol McPherson. "They really played well when it counted."
A big key to Loch Raven's rallies was its balanced offense. When the two teams met last month, Kelly Powell carried much of the load for the Raiders. Powell did well again, finishing with 11 kills and nine blocks, but she had lots of help.
Tiggy Stevens came off the bench to record 12 kills and seven aces. Stevens, who had three quick kills when entering in the first game, got on a roll and never stopped.
"I was really nervous last time," said Stevens. "This time, I came in and I was hitting it as hard as I could."
Said McPherson: "She was our killing machine in this match."
Errors, both forced and unforced, hurt Catonsville late in each game. For example, Loch Raven scored four of its final six points in Game 2 on Catonsville miscues.
Loch Raven, however, often forced the mistakes with strong net play. The Raiders controlled the first match with consistent net play, but this time Catonsville made them work a little harder.
In addition to Powell and Stevens, Emily Meise also contributed. She finished with a team-high 14 kills.
Accurate passes made the Raiders' offense flow. Sun Kang, Powell and Jebry Simon all did a good job of passing for Loch Raven. Kang also pitched in with a perfect match serving, finishing 22-for-22.
Catonsville played well in stretches, jumping to a 7-3 lead in Game 1 behind the net play of Kristie Deickman and Lori Havrilla.
Deickman and Havrilla teamed up again to help the Comets take control in Game 2. Catonsville scored 11 of 14 points to take a 12-8 lead before Loch Raven rallied.
The Comets scored big when they were able to find Deickman at the net. She finished with 16 kills and four single blocks. Havrilla helped with nine single blocks.
In the end, however, Catonsville could not come through at the end. "The difference was at the end," said Comets coach Debbie Clem. "They handled the pressure a little better than we did."