Liberty has an opportunity to move one step closer to grabbing its second Central Maryland Conference volleyball championship in three years but will have to do so without the services of one of its top players.
The 8-1 Lions, who sat alone atop the conference until losing to South Carroll Tuesday night, meet co-leader Thomas Johnson at 7 o'clock tonight in Eldersburg. The Patriots also have only one loss in the conference.
Liberty last won the title in 1997. To repeat that effort, the Lions will have to find someone to replace Lauren Smith.
The 5-foot-9 junior middle hitter with a 25-inch vertical leap has been diagnosed with tendinitis in her right shoulder, Liberty coach Dave Trumbo said.
Smith, who has 118 kills this season, had teamed with senior middle hitter Stephanie Wilder (123 kills) to give the Lions a dangerous duo, but Smith will be out for at least a week to allow her shoulder to heal.
"We were coming together," Trumbo said. "This threw us for a loop."
Smith's absence was evident in Liberty's straight-set loss to South Carroll Tuesday night. The Lions had defeated the Cavaliers, 15-7, 9-15, 15-11, 9-15, 15-5, on Sept. 14.
But junior middle hitter Emily Wolfing (eight kills, two blocks) and senior middle hitter Vicky Softy (three kills, three blocks) helped South Carroll pin Liberty with its first conference and county loss with a strong 15-11, 15-9, 15-13 effort.
The win put the Cavaliers in second place and the enviable position of watching the co-leaders battle each other.
"One of those teams has to lose," said South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton. "We'll be in the thick of things."
The Cavaliers, who beat Thomas Johnson in four sets on Sept. 21, are 7-2 and face North Carroll tonight and Monday, the Patriots Wednesday, Frederick Oct. 26 and Westminster Oct. 28.
After tonight, Liberty has a rematch with the Patriots Monday, Frederick next Thursday, Linganore Oct. 26 and North Carroll Oct. 28.
Two numbers a shirt
At every home game, South Carroll's boys soccer players wear jerseys with two numbers -- their own and Eddie Harrison's.
Harrison, a midfielder for the Cavaliers who graduated in 1998, was killed last summer in a car accident on his way home from a carnival in Mount Airy. Also killed was Brad Mann, a wrestler who graduated this past June.
South Carroll boys soccer coach Charlie Fazenbaker said his players approached him in August about wearing a patch with Harrison's number 22 on their jerseys.
"A lot of the kids knew him," Fazenbaker said of Harrison. "So I said OK."
Senior fullback Tim Novotny was one who asked Fazenbaker.
"I used to play baseball with [Harrison] when I was a little kid," Novotny said. "We were all surprised and shocked that we had lost somebody like him."
Harrison is the third Cavaliers soccer player to have died in as many years. Former midfielders Andy Thompson and Martin Oswiecimka died in 1997.
Fazenbaker had just enough time to get permission to have the patches sewn onto the left sleeves of the jerseys.
After every game, the team also awards a "spirit" jersey with the number 22 to the player who demonstrates hustle and determination on the field -- as Harrison did, Fazenbaker said.
"Eddie was a smart player who was always go, go, go, go," Fazenbaker said. "That's why it's kind of neat that we have the spirit jersey."
Pub Date: 10/14/99