North Carroll coach Don'a Martin has plenty of faith in her team.
Martin said the Panthers can play very well when they want to -- and last night that happened late in each of the final three games as they defeated host South Carroll, 9-15, 15-13, 15-13, 15-8.
The North Carroll formula for victory was simple -- the Panthers dominated play at the end of the last three games of the match.
"It seems like every game we pull together at the end," said Karen Carter of North Carroll. "We work well together."
After losing the first game, North Carroll (3-2, 1-0, 3-1 in Central Maryland Conference) jumped out to a 9-2 lead in Game 2. The serves of Christa Farrar then helped South Carroll (2-3, 0-2, 1-3) run off nine of 11 straight points for a 13-9 lead.
But Carisa Kreichauf's serves and Carter's play at the net let the Panthers score the final six points. Game 3 saw more of the same for North Carroll as South Carroll used a 10-2 run -- thanks mostly to Amy Stephenson's serves -- for a 13-11 lead.
North Carroll again answered with a late rally. The Panthers' aggressive play at the net helped them score the final four points to overtake South Carroll.
The last game was tied at seven before the serving of Carter and Amber Peltzer helped the Panthers score eight of the next nine.
"The bottom line is this [team] is good enough to play with anybody," said Martin, who credited assistant coach Bonnie Clendaniel with helping in this match. "We have what I call mental lapses. They need to decide when to play."
When the Panthers decided to play, it caused trouble for South Carroll. For North Carroll, deciding to play meant becoming more aggressive on the court and forcing South Carroll errors.
The aggressive play for North Carroll, especially at the net, caused South Carroll to make numerous mistakes. For example, miscues led to most of the four-point rally at the end of Game 3.
Most of the players had a hand in the rallies. Carter and Kreichauf made numerous good plays at the net. Lisa Beverly came up with several good defensive efforts -- including some spectacular saves. Peltzer, Kathleen Tunney and Stacy Cook also helped out all over the court.
The loss in Game 2 seemed to turn the match around. And when North Carroll repeated its rally in Game 3, it had gained control.
"If we had won the second game, we'd have won the match," said South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton. "The momentum just changed, and we just couldn't get it back."