Liberty volleyball coach Dave Trumbo says strong serving is the key to winning in the newly adopted rally scoring system.
If that's the case, his ninth-ranked Lions appear primed to serve up their share of victories.
In a season-opening matchup of 2002 state semifinalists, host Liberty fired accurately on 67 of 73 serves, scoring aces on 10 of them in a 25-13, 25-17, 25-9 victory over Loch Raven of Baltimore County.
"The only way you're going to win rally games is to get on runs while you're serving," Trumbo said. "You can't get a point, give a point. You've got to score points off your serve."
Rally scoring, a longtime staple in club ball, is making its debut in the state this season. In this style of play, one of the two teams scores a point off every single serve, making side outs a thing of the past.
The new style of play is reflected in the Lions' practices, where Trumbo challenges his team to repeat specific skills on the court several times in a row.
"Volleyball is a streaky game," Trumbo said, "and the way rally is, if you score four or five in a row, that other team may never recover."
That was the case last night. The Lions used their accurate serving and strong net play to put together long streaks in each of their three games.
Led by 6-foot middle hitter Stacey Krebs (eight kills, four blocks) and 5-10 outside hitter Meghan McConville (seven kills), Liberty emerged from a 9-9 tie in the first game by scoring seven of the next eight points to take control.
Down 1-0 in the second game, the Lions scored 10 straight points under the serving of Jess Chiaramonte, who stroked three straight aces during the stretch.
The hosts took a 6-0 lead in the third game, then later put away the Raiders by scoring 11 out of 12.
"We just wanted to show what we could do in our first game," said Krebs, who says she likes the new scoring system. "I think you play more aggressively, but also it's more pressure on the server. If they miss a point, it's giving a point to the other team, whereas before it just gave them the ball."
Teammate McConville is also a big advocate of rally scoring.
"I like it a lot," she said "It just makes the tempo faster and the game more interesting."
Trumbo said he's in the process of evaluating his servers, figuring out which six will do the bulk of the serving.
With his team serving at a 92 percent clip in the opener, however, that may prove difficult.