Centennial sweeps to three-peat

November 21, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

No. 2 Centennial may be known for its high-powered offense, but the defense should get just as much credit for the Eagles' third consecutive state title.

pTC The Eagles (22-1) virtually shut down Walt Whitman's offense en route to a 15-2, 15-7, 15-0 victory and another Class 3A championship. This was their fourth title in five years.

"They're a great team," said Whitman coach Jim Kuhn, whose squad had not been swept in a match this season. "They play fantastic defense, and we just weren't able to maintain the level we needed to maintain."

Against Walt Whitman (12-5), the Eagles played their best defensive match of the season. They even blocked two serves -- one by Michelle Dugan and another by Marcia Kunkel.

They knew where the Vikings' top hitter, Mary Jo Sisk, would hit the ball, and they were ready.

"We focused a lot of defense on No. 12 [Sisk]," said Eagles senior Carlyn Cangiano. "She gets 90 percent of the sets, so we had to block her or dig her and watch her all the way."

Cangiano had a couple of point blocks against Sisk, who managed just six kills in the match. The backcourt defense kept digging up almost everything Sisk tried to put down.

"That's the sign of a good team if you can frustrate the other team at what they do well," said Centennial coach Bill Shook. "I think we frustrated them and they started getting a little too aggressive and playing without control. Even their best hitter starting hitting without control."

On the other hand, the Eagles' offense certainly didn't take the day off. Without the height to do much blocking, the Vikings relied on backcourt defense to contend with Centennial's power hits.

Knowing the 5-foot-10 Sisk would block in the middle, Shook designed some new plays to move middle hitters Cangiano and Krisha Svehla to the outside. The strategy worked.

"The outside hitters were coming in with fakes to try to stall that middle blocker, causing the team to be down on the floor and not blocking Carly and Krisha," said Shook.

Svehla led the Eagles with 10 kills on 20-for-23 hitting and Cangiano added nine kills, going 18-for-20. Erika Hockycko had six kills on 17-for-19 hitting.

The Eagles never struggled -- not even in the second game when the Vikings came back from 12-2 down to pull within 12-7.

Sisk had two of her kills in the run, but then she mishit the ball into the net to give the Eagles a 13-7 lead. After that, Cangiano nailed a kill and then finished off the game with an ace off her jump serve.

In the final game, Sisk didn't manage a single kill as Cangiano blocked her once and she hit several balls into the net.

After Kelly West's jump serve, Cangiano closed out the match with a kill.

"In this type of competition, you see the difference between kids who play all year-round and kids like mine who play other sports," said Kuhn, who has only one club player, Sisk, on his Montgomery County squad. "We were not able to come up with the little plays and they did."

For the Eagles, the title marked a complete rebound from their only loss of the season to No. 1 Severna Park at the North Caroline tournament in mid-October. Since then, the Eagles have won 10 straight.

But they never looked better than yesterday.

"We were really together," said Eagles senior setter Carrie Shadrick. "Our defense was moving, our blocking was really strong, our hitting was really strong, really smart. It was exciting to win our third one."

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