Dulaney's Danielle Parker looked around after her Lions dropped the first game of the Baltimore County volleyball championship to Towson, 25-10. She didn't like what she saw.
The senior captain, along with co-captain Maria DiPietro, gave the teammates a pep talk and told them to pick up their intensity. It must have worked, as the Lions went on to win the next three games and capture their third straight county title, 10-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-19.
"I told them we just needed to pick it up and put our hearts into the game," said Parker, who will attend the University of Delaware on a basketball scholarship next season. "In the second game, we came together as a team."
The Lions used better sets to set up Parker, 6 feet 2, after the first game, and it paid off immediately. After the second game was tied at 20, Parker took over as Dulaney (14-1) scored five of the next eight points as the Lions took the game, 25-23.
The Lions fell behind in the third game, trailing by as many as five points at 20-15 before rallying to tie the match at 23. Parker (23 kills) contributed two key kills as the Lions won the third game, 27-25.
The Lions fell behind again in the fourth game by as many as eight at 17-9, but scored 16 of the next 18 points to win the last game, 25-19, and take the crown.
"We really worked all year to get better, and I think we got a lot better after losing our opener to Severna Park," said Parker, who has played on the past two Dulaney championship teams after transferring from St. Frances. "I am so proud of our team that we've come all this way."
Dulaney coach Cary Lyon said leadership was not always a role that fit Parker. He said he didn't make her a captain until the middle of the year. "I made her earn that," Lyon said. "She learned that the little things were what I was looking for, and she gradually grew into the role. You could see that deer-in-the-headlights look in most of the players' eyes after the first game, but Danny and Maria settled them down."
Lyon gave credit to Towson (11-4) for its improvement.
"I saw that they beat Catonsville, and I knew they had improved also," Lyon said. "They came in fired up, and they really played great that first game.