Centennial ends unbeaten year with title win over T. Johnson Eagles claim sixth crown in row

Price, lone senior, sparks victory in 4 games

3A volleyball

November 17, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Mission accomplished.

Centennial is once again a state champion.

The Eagles, who had their four-year state championship run stopped last year by Mount Hebron in a region final, earned their sixth state title last night with a 13-15, 15-13, 15-7, 15-4 victory over Thomas Johnson of Frederick County at Catonsville Community College.

The Eagles (19-0) completed their third unbeaten season in school history, and will finish the season as they started it -- with the No. 1 ranking.

"This has been our goal since we lost to Mount Hebron last year," said Meredith Price, the only senior on the team.

"This is what they worked for, this is what they wanted to do," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom. "They worked hard for this. I'm very happy we won."

The victory, though decisive at the end, was not a sure thing at the beginning. As they did in their marathon five-game semifinal win Wednesday against McDonough, the Eagles dropped the opening game.

The Eagles, who lost only one game in the regular season, led 13-7 in the first game. Then they failed to win a point on six serves, and Thomas Johnson (17 -3) won the game with eight straight points.

L "We made the mistakes. We gave them 12 points," Bossom said.

"I think we thought we had it so we just relaxed," said Centennial's Robyn West. "We certainly didn't play our best."

Centennial led 8-7 in the third game before winning the last seven points. Briana Zolak, who had 13 kills, led the Eagles' run with many excellent hits.

"We started playing our game again," Bossom said. "We made fewer errors, made them make the mistakes and our passing was there."

Centennial took a 12-7 lead in the second game, then made numerous mistakes that allowed Thomas Johnson to take a 13-12 advantage. That's when Price, who led the Eagles with 20 kills, took over.

The Patriots served three times for a 14th point, but Price hit a winner each time for a side-out. Then with Susan Yi serving, West, Price and Kathleen O'Connor, who played on a sprained ankle she suffered in basketball practice, closed out the game with strong kill shots.

Price is the comsummate team player, but she was glad to get the ball when the Eagles needed those important side-outs.

"I wanted the ball because I thought I could get it down," Price said. "I'm a pressure player and when we need to get a side-out, that's when I think I play my best."

Centennial led 8-7 in the third game before winning the last seven points. Briana Zolak, who had 13 kills, led the Eagles' run with several excellent hits.

'We started playing our game again,' Bossom said. 'We made fewer errors, made them make the mistakes and our passing was there.'

Centennial broke open a 5-3 lead with nine straight points in the fourth game to win going away.

Centennial broke open a 5-3 lead with nine straight points in the fourth game to win going away.

"We thought we were the better team," Price said. "We just had to play like it."

And in the end, the Eagles did.

"I'm really glad we got it [state title] back," said Price. "This game has been in my mind a long time. It's the best way to end the season."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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