At times, they dominated. At others, they seemed to sleep-walk through entire games.
But when it matter most, the No. 2 Dulaney Lions volleyball team grabbed the momentum and never let go, scratching and clawing for key points in a 15-9, 11-15, 15-10, 5-15, 15-13 win over No. 5 River Hill last night.
It wasn't great volleyball - both coaches said as much afterward. But Dulaney's poor passing was forgotten thanks to Veronica Briggs and Kristin Schmidt, who carried the Lions with 13 kills each.
"I thought Kristin really came through big for us tonight," said Dulaney coach Ian Blanchard. "She got some crucial sideouts for us and some crucial conversions and that might have been the difference in the match."
If Schmidt's play was a welcome surprise, then Briggs was the steady rock in Dulaney's attack. Though she stands all of 5 feet 6, every time the Lions needed a big point, setter Bruna Fonseca sent the ball Briggs' way. In fact, Briggs had three kills straight kills to help the Lions finish off the Hawks in the fifth game.
"We weren't surprised it was as close as it was, but we really had to pick it up to another level," said Briggs, who has 25-inch vertical leap.
The Lions looked like they might dominate the Hawks after an easy victory in the first game, but as the match went on, River Hill dug in and didn't back down. Behind Krystal Jacobson (12 kills) and Alison Kupec (nine kills), River Hill came back to take an epic game two that lasted nearly 40 minutes. During one stretch, the teams traded off serve 16 times and only once did either team (River Hill) score a point.
"Even though I felt like we played terrible at points, we didn't pack our bags and give in," said River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher. "I expected us to do better."
Dulaney rallied to win the third game thanks to six aces from Briggs and Jennifer Wylie, who was playing her first game after being out with a broken foot. But the Lions turned around and got steamrolled in the fourth as the Hawks won nine points off Kupec's serve to take back the momentum.
However, Dulaney fought back, digging itself our of a 6-1 hole in the fifth behind Schmidt and Briggs. Fonseca, who struggled much of the game with a massive head cold, also made several nice plays down the stretch, getting a kill to give Dulaney a 13-11 lead, then finding Briggs twice to close out the win.