Centennial struggles, but tops Thomas Stone

November 15, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

LA PLATA -- If No. 1 Centennial sought a spark to boost them to their fourth straight state volleyball championship, the Eagles did not find it in last night's semifinal win over Thomas Stone.

The Eagles (23-1) struggled through much of the match against a resilient, scrappy Thomas Stone team (14-6). Still, the Eagles had more than enough power to overwhelm Thomas Stone, 15-7, 15-9, 15-11, in last night's Class 3A semifinal match at La Plata High.

"We were a little overconfident because of last year," said Eagles senior Kelly West. "Last year, we came in and breezed through the state semis and finals. I think that's what we were thinking was gonna happen this year. I think we took it for granted."

With each game, the Eagles had more and more trouble putting away Thomas Stone. The Cougars battled from four points down to take a 9-8 lead in the second game. Every point the Cougars scored in that game came on a Centennial error.

At the same time, Centennial struggled to get its power-hitting offense in gear.

Finally, Michelle Dugan rescued the Eagles with three kills as they reeled off the last seven points of the second game. Jen West also contributed a kill and Sheri Kujawa, an ace.

In the third game, coach Mike Bossom went to his bench. Even though the Cougars took a 7-3 lead, Bossom stayed with his youngsters.

With the Eagles trailing 7-5, Jenny Klimm served them out of the hole. Klimm's strong service run included an ace and Katie McCulloch contributed a kill as the Eagles rallied to lead 10-7.

But the Cougars were not finished.

"You couldn't turn your back on them," said Bossom. "They weren't overpowering but they weren't weak. They had quick defense, a better setter and OK hitters who got the ball in. They let us make the mistakes."

The Cougars jumped back ahead 11-10 on Felecia Rice's ace, a Tanneka Jones block and a hit down the line by Jennifer Chapman that the defense let drop thinking it was wide.

Centennial recovered to finish off the match with help from kills by Robyn West and Krisha Svehla, who had a match-high eight kills.

The Eagles now have to guard against another bout of overconfidence Saturday when they face No. 15 South Carroll, a 15-13, 15-9, 15-8 semifinal winner over C. Milton Wright, for the state title at 5 p.m.

Several of the Eagles players said last night's struggle stemmed from a letdown after Friday night's hard-fought 15-12, 15-5, 9-15, 8-15, 15-10 win over Mount Hebron in the regional final.

"I don't think we were mentally prepared, because of Hebron," said Kelly West. "Hebron seemed more like a state final match to us. We did not play our game [last night]."

But West said she does not expect the lack of intensity to recur on Saturday.

"Being a senior and that being my last game, I know I'm going to be up for that. I think we're all going to be up for Saturday because it's the title."

With a tradition that includes four state titles since 1989, the Eagles want to keep the championship streak alive.

"It's kind of expected," said Kujawa, one of six Eagles seniors. "I think I would be a little bit ashamed of myself if we didn't carry on the tradition."

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