For some volleyball coaches, the term "rebuilding" might elicit images of long, frustrating days in the gym, and even longer nights watching games slip away on youthful mistakes.
As Liberty coach Dave Trumbo's squad proved again last night, however, breakups need not always be painful.
Using a nine-girl rotation in which eight either played on the JV or sat on the varsity bench last season, the Lions held off improved Westminster, 17-15, 15-3, 15-12, to win their 21st straight regular-season match.
"I'm having a ball," said Trumbo, whose team graduated five starters after advancing to the Class 3A state semifinals a year ago. "I'm having a ball because I have two sophomores who are so good it's scary. I've never had two sophomores that are as good as they are."
Sophomore Meghan McConville, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, finished last night with a team-high seven kills. Classmate Stacey Krebs, a 5-11 middle hitter, finished with four kills.
Together with senior setter and returning county Player of the Year Laura Shand and senior hitter Emily McConville (four kills, four blocks), Liberty (3-0 overall, 3-0 Central Maryland Conference, 1-0 county) appears in prime position for a run at its fourth straight county championship.
"It's definitely different than last year because we had almost a whole court of seniors," Shand said. "Now, we've got girls that have just stepped into those roles, and have done very well. Our sophomores and juniors who didn't get to play too much last year knew it was their turn and were ready to step up."
Against a game Westminster squad, the Lions, at times, needed that step up.
Trailing 12-5 in the opening game, the Owls (1-2, 1-2, 0-1), playing without top hitter Katie Seibel, who sprained an ankle last week against Thomas Johnson, began to cut down on their mistakes and reeled off 10 of the next 12 points to take a 15-14 lead.
On the brink of falling behind in the match, however, Liberty stepped up, forcing a side out and then scoring three straight points to win, 17-15.
"Coming from so far down, and knowing that right now we're lacking our top player, that emotional component of being able to take that first game would've been a big step," Westminster coach Kris Rusinko said. "To come back from behind down 12-5 and take a 15-14 lead, if we would've taken that game, we would've won the match."
Freshman Stephanie Outten (five kills) led the Owls, who also challenged through the third game before again falling.