Atholton, Centennial want to continue county tradition State championships are at stake tomorrow

November 15, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Since the present classification system started in 1988, Howard County volleyball teams have won six Class 3A and seven Class 2A state championships.

Atholton and Centennial hope to continue that tradition of excellence in tomorrow's state finals at Catonsville Community college. The Raiders play North East of Cecil County at noon for the Class 2A title, and top-ranked Centennial meets Thomas Stone of Charles County for the Class 3A title at 5 p.m.

Atholton (15-5) advanced to the final with a 15-10, 11-15, 15-3, 15-4 victory Wednesday night over North Caroline. Raiders coach Mike Kalinock credited his team with a gutty performance because they didn't play their best.

"I thought it was more nerves than anything else," Kalinock said. "We dropped a little [in performance]. We didn't run our offense at all."

Kalinock said his team's defense and blocking has been a key reason for the team's playoff success. "The blocking over the last two weeks has been the best it's been all season," said Kalinock.

Jen Thomas and Laura Kuckuda have played well at the net for the Raiders, who are led by outside hitters Jessica Edwards and Madigan Marth.

Edwards and Marth were on the varsity two years ago when the Raiders lost the state championship match to Loch Raven. This season, they feel the outcome will be different.

"I feel good about our chances and about our level of play," Marth said.

"I think we're playing strong and smart right now," Edwards said.

Centennial outlasted McDonough in a 2-hour, 25-minute match, 15-17, 15-11, 8-15, 15-8, 15-5 on Wednesday night. It was the first time this season the Eagles (18-0) lost two games in a match.

"We learned our lesson," said Centennial setter Susan Yi, who admitted the team underestimated McDonough. "I'm sure we'll be prepared on Saturday."

Meredith Price, Centennial's only senior, said the Eagles played too tentatively.

"We have to play to win this time," said Price. Against McDonough "we played like we didn't want to lose. We kind of forgot that we want to win."

Centennial coach Mike Bossom said his team made "uncharacteristic mistakes," but that he was proud of how it responded after falling behind 2-1 in games.

Winning state titles is nothing new for the Eagles. They have won five, including four straight (1991-94). They lost in last year's region final to eventual state champion Mount Hebron, a defeat that has motivated them this season.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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