Mount Hebron rallies to win 2A title Volleyball

November 22, 1992|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

Prior to yesterday's Class 3A state final, Centennial volleyball coach Bill Shook said he almost hoped his Eagles would lose a game. Losing, he said, even once, would be enough to fire up his team.

The coach, however, had no such luck. He didn't need it.

With a dominating performance typical of Centennial's season, the Eagles defeated Montgomery County's Walter Johnson, 15-9, 15-8, 15-8 at Catonsville Community College to win their second straight state championship and third in four years.

This year's championship, though, was special to Shook, for a number of reasons. Numbers such as four, the amount of state finalists the Eagles defeated during a 24-0 season. And 20, their national ranking, according to USA Today.

The Eagles posted dominating wins over Class 1A state champion Williamsport, Class 2A state champion Mount Hebron and Class 4A finalists Severna Park and Northern of Calvert County. They also won 75 of their 78 games, never losing two in a row and never dropping the opening game of a match.

"This feels even better than last year," Shook said. "We beat all of the best teams in the state. That's just an incredible feeling."

The Eagles capped their season with a diversified offense featuring the hitting of seniors Shannon Saltzman and Laura Tanneyhill, and a defense that reduced the effectiveness of Wildcats hitters Dana Eberly and Sarah Greenwold.

Saltzman and Tanneyhill were the preferred finishers in an unpredictable offense that kept Walter Johnson on edge. The Eagles used the dink when the Wildcats expected the kill, set passes to several hitters and just about faked Walter Johnson (15-3) out of its kneepads.

"We've always tried to do that," Carlyn Cangiano said. "We were trying to mix up the offense so their defense wouldn't know who to block."

The strategy worked. Saltzman had 12 kills, Tanneyhill six and Krisha Svehla five, with other Eagles with one or two.

Centennial's defense, led by the net play of the 5-foot-11 Cangiano, held Eberly and Greenwold to four points off of kills and blocks. Both were big factors in their team's semifinal win over Catonsville.

"I just followed their big hitters around," said Cangiano, who had 14 blocks, including six point blocks.

After Centennial got off to a sluggish start, defense turned the tide.

With the score 8-8 in the first game, Greenwold sent what looked to be an unreturnable floater toward the back corner of the Eagles' box.

Centennial's Sandy Palasek ran toward the corner and dived, popping the ball up with her fist. Cangiano then dived to keep the ball alive, and Palasek recovered to send it over the net. The Eagles went on to win the point and never looked back.

"Once we had that save we knew it was going to go our way," Saltzman said. "The motivation just totally went to our side."

L Said Shook: "That sort of put the first nail in the coffin."

Centennial won 19 of the next 23 points to finish the first game, grabbed a healthly lead in the second game and was never threatened.

"When you lose you can say a lot of things," Walter Johnson coach William Morris III said. "But in this case the other team had a lot to do with it. Centennial was just better than us."

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