Centennial survives scare by McDonough

November 19, 1992|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

LA PLATA -- After drawing a pair of upstart teams from Baltimore City in last week's regionals, the top-ranked Centennial girls volleyball team emerged unscathed. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they also were unchallenged.

In last night's Class 3A state semifinal against a game team from McDonough of Charles County, their lack of competition showed. Centennial dropped only its third game of the season, but came back to post a 15-7, 10-15, 15-1, 15-10 win.

The Eagles (15-0) move on to Saturday's Class 3A state final against Walter Johnson of Montgomery County, a 15-10, 15-1, 15-10 upset winner over Catonsville in last night's other semifinal. This will mark the third appearance in the state title game in the past four years for Centennial, which won the championship in 1989 and 1991.

For coach Bill Shook, however, this trip didn't come easily.

"We were unchallenged last week," Shook said. "Today, we tried to add some challenge by mixing up our offense a little. Instead of just pounding the ball, we tried some dinks and other things. But I think we did it too much."

Add to that the dominating play of McDonough hitting standout Denitra Hayes, and Centennial got a little more than it had bargained for.

Hayes, a 5-10 senior, was all over the court, collecting 15 kills and four blocks. She was McDonough's primary weapon, and for much of the match, she was unstoppable.

After Centennial built a 13-1 lead in game one, Hayes helped rally her team for six consecutive points before the Eagles (13-3) won, 15-7. It was in game two, however, where she did most of her damage.

With the Eagles leading, 5-0, Hayes broke Centennial's serve three consecutive times with kills.

But later on, as McDonough's passing broke down, so did Hayes' high level of play.

"The only one who played consistently well was [Hayes]," said McDonough coach Lesley Cooke. "We just couldn't get the ball to her. It was just terrible passing."

Meanwhile, the Eagles' Shannon Saltzman and Laura Taneyhill took over the front court. Saltzman had 14 kills and four blocks while Taneyhill collected six kills.

"We were playing too conservative [in the second game]," said Taneyhill. "Our coach told us to mix it up a little bit, and it seemed to work."

Shook, however, had another explanation for Centennial's mid-match troubles. He said that last week's three-game victories combined with early leads in all four games last night made his team overconfident. "That's a comfort zone that I don't like," he said. "As soon as you get comfortable, what happens? You get overconfident, and you start to lose points."

Centennial closed out the match with a 15-10 win in the fourth game.

"It was kind of a surprise," said Saltzman. "This was the first time in a while we've played against really good competition, and our passing game broke down. It'll be fun going back to the state finals, though."

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