Dinnertime conversations in the Cobaugh household can get a little uncomfortable. Samantha Cobaugh is a senior on Patuxent's volleyball team, while sister Sarah is a sophomore for Calvert.
"I try to get their secrets all the time," Samantha said. "But she caught on to me pretty quickly."
The secret behind Calvert's 28-26, 25-18, 25-11 nonconference win over Patuxent on Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams was fairly obvious: The Cavaliers passed the ball better than they had during any practice or scrimmage this season.
Calvert lost only two games last year en route to an undefeated season and its second Maryland 3A championship. But with new starters at four positions this season, the Cavaliers needed to learn how to play together. Some even had to learn new positions. Proper passing is critical after such personnel changes.
Calvert Coach David Redden spends at least 45 minutes of each practice working on passing techniques and teaching his players proper form. He noticed Tuesday night that his players were not lazily sticking their arms sideward but rather squaring their shoulders and forearms with the ball, ensuring a crisp exchange.
"The biggest thing I learned [from this victory] is that all the time we've spent on passing has paid off," Redden said.
Redden was especially impressed with the passing of Kristina Shannon -- one of the two returning starters from last season and Calvert's lone senior in the lineup Tuesday. (Jordan Ritchie was ill.) Shannon played on the back line last year and now is learning to play on the outside.
Some people "think it's all about killing the ball, and that's what you see in gym class a lot," Shannon said. "But in competitive volleyball, you can't have sets or kills without good passing.
"We knew we could pass their serves. We've played against them before" in club volleyball.
The Cavaliers needed some time to get going. In the first game, the Panthers led 24-21 thanks to some strong serving, and one more solid delivery would have given them the first game. But the referee said the next serve was narrowly wide, giving Calvert a side out.
The Cavaliers scored seven of the next nine points to take the first game and cruised over the final two games to take the match.
"That was the deciding factor, I think," Patuxent Coach Erica Weems said. "I wanted that first game, so [my players] would know they could beat" Calvert.