Centennial's volleyball team settled a personal score with Mount Hebron and took over first place in the county standings with a 15-7, 13-15, 15-10, 15-1 victory Friday night at Hebron.
The unbeaten Eagles (8-0), behind a powerful attack led by junior Shannon Saltzman, handed the Vikings (7-1) their first defeat of the season and broke Hebron's 19-game winning streak dating back to last year.
The defending 2A champion Vikings had not lost since Centennial beat them in three games at the season's midpoint last year. Hebron rebounded to beat the Eagles in a five-game match at the end of the regular season, before going on to win the state title.
Centennial, which never got to defend its 3A state championship last year after losing in the regional finals, left no doubts about who is the better team right now.
The Eagles started strongly in the first game, stumbled in the second, then silenced the Vikings by winning 27 of the last 30 points.
"This is the best game I've played all year. It was all of us returning the favor for last year," said Saltzman, the 6-foot middle hitter who hurt Hebron more than anyone.
Saltzman, a second-year player, played excellent defense in the back row and was deadly at the net, where she led all players with 15 kills and five point blocks.
With Sezin Omer setting beautifully (47-for-50, 14 assists), Saltzman teamed up with 5-11 middle hitter Carly Cangiano (four point blocks) and outside hitters Laura Taneyhill and Jenn Hermann, who gave the Vikings too much offense to handle.
Hebron entered thematch weakened by the absence of senior middle hitter Brooke Christopher. She spent part of last week in and out of the hospital passing a kidney stone. Christopher lost six pounds during the ordeal and watched the match near the Hebron bench from a wheelchair.
Hebron gotan inspired performance from senior Angie Kress (six kills), who moved to Christopher's middle position. But the Vikings hurt themselves with 10 service errors and could not solve Centennial's front row.
Hebron also showed its lack of depth by tiring in the final game. The Eagles, who attacked with a nine-player rotation from the outset, made the final game anticlimactic. Centennial bolted to a 6-0 lead, then ran off the final eight points to complete the decisive game in 10minutes.
"I tried everything. I tried timeouts, I tried subs. They (Centennial) just got very much on a roll," said Hebron coach Jeannine McCrumb. "They got the kills when they needed them, and maybe I don't have as much of a comeback team as I thought. I think what I learned tonight is we have to get ahead."
The Vikings led briefly in the first game, then blew an 11-6 lead in game two before pulling outa 15-13 decision to even the match.
In the pivotal third game, the Vikings took an 8-3 lead, but would score just three points the rest of the night.
"When you put two teams this even in the same gym,the serve and service receive are so close. It comes down to blocking and hitting," said Centennial coach Bill Shook. "We came here to show them some power."
The Eagles flashed their strength early. Saltzman set the tone in the opening game with three kills and a block point. In game three, she took over with five kills, as Centennial rallied from an 8-3 deficit to win 15-10 and gain control of the match.
The Eagles and Hebron will meet again Oct. 31 at Centennial, in a match that could decide the county title. Between now and then, Saltzman says the Eagles will remember the way last season turned out. After blowing out Hebron last year, the Eagles lost three of their last seven matches before falling in the playoffs.
"This year, our team is stronger mentally. We've become so close, because we remember whathappened last year," she said. "We're trying not to think that far ahead, because that's what got us in trouble."