South Carroll's volleyball team took the court last night and proved conclusively that first impressions, indeed, can be deceiving.
Just three weeks after opening their season with a three-game loss to North Carroll, the host Cavaliers dominated every aspect of last night's rematch, getting eight kills from junior Dianne Murphy and six kills and five blocks from senior Erika Swanson in a 15-6, 15-5, 15-8 thrashing of the Panthers.
"When we serve well and we pass well, we play well," South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton said. "I was real happy with the way we played tonight. North Carroll made some mistakes and gave us a few points, but we took advantage of them with some nice serves and some nice kills."
The Cavaliers (4-3 overall, 1-0 Central Maryland Conference, 2-2 Carroll County) steamrolled through each of the first two games before rallying from a 6-1 deficit to win the decisive third game going away.
"We just came out flat. You can't use Game 1 as a warm-up," North Carroll coach Don'a Martin said. "South Carroll was not an easy match the first time, no matter how it looked. They have a lot of hitters who can hit. Tonight, people just weren't stepping up and doing the job they needed to do."
It was a somewhat different story than its 2002 debut, when South Carroll lost to the same Panthers, 15-17, 12-15, 14-16.
In that match, injuries to key players slowed a Cavaliers team that simply wasn't ready to play. For North Carroll (4-2, 0-1, 1-2), the early victory put the wheels in motion for a torrid start under new coach Martin, who had returned to the team that she coached from 1993 to '95.
After entering last night's match having won four of their first five matches, however, the Panthers seemed to revert to the error-prone squad that finished last year 6-8 and have won just 11 matches over their past two seasons. Martin said she believes part of the problem is her team's low expectations.
"After the third match of the season, I asked them what their goal was. They said their goal was to be a .500-level team, and that floored me," Martin said. "They have to start believing in themselves. They have tremendous potential, but they don't take themselves that seriously yet."
With two straight wins, South Carroll is now beginning to take itself seriously.
Following what's sure to be a stiff test Tuesday at conference favorite Thomas Johnson, the Cavaliers will prepare for the annual county tournament, an event South Carroll will play host to Oct. 4-5.