Top-ranked Centennial looked more relieved than happy after holding off determined seventh-ranked River Hill, 15-13, 15-11, 13-15, 15-13, yesterday in the Howard County opener for both teams at Centennial.
There was a reason for that.
Centennial trailed 13-10 in the first game and 11-10 in the second before rallying behind the serving of Robyn West. And in the fourth game, the Eagles (2-0) led 11-1, only to watch River Hill tie it at 13-all and serve for the lead.
"We just played terrible," said West. "We're capable of playing so much better."
Said Centennial coach Mike Bossom: "We made a lot of mental errors. I'm disappointed when we don't play well, and we didn't."
River Hill (1-1) had a more positive assessment.
"I'm sad because we wanted this so much," said sophomore Shannon Patrick, her eyes still watery. "But I feel good because we played so well as a team. We hustled and we gave it our all."
Added River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher. "I think we're right with them [Centennial]."
Centennial, which graduated only one player from last year's 19-0 team, trailed 13-10 in the opening game after a four-point run by the Hawks. But West served out the game with an amazing display of accuracy. Each serve was better than the one before, and the last two were untouchable, landing deep in the opposite corner.
"I'm capable of doing that," said West, "but I normally don't."
The Eagles, who made a lot of service errors in the match, jumped to a 10-4 lead in the second game, only to watch Patrick rally the Hawks to an 11-10 lead. During the River Hill comeback, Centennial failed to score on 10 service opportunities.
West stopped that streak as Centennial won two points for a 12-11 lead. Michelle Flather served out the game.
Bossom started the third game with a new lineup -- four players that were on the JV last year and two that had varsity experience. He mixed a couple more veterans in, but top hitters Briana Zolak, West and setter Susan Yi did not play in the game.
River Hill led, 12-9, but Centennial rallied to tie at 13-all. Amber Rieg served out the game for the Hawks.
"When they brought in the second line, we took them for granted and eased up a little," said Patrick of the third game. "Then we realized we had to play just as hard."
Centennial, with its starting lineup back in, ran off the first eight points of the fourth game en route to an 11-1 lead. Then River Hill, behind Patrick, Beth Thomas and Ingrid Frank, couldn't do ,, anything wrong and Centennial anything right. Thomas served at 13-all for the lead, but Kathleen O'Connor's winner gave rTC Centennial side out. Zolak served out the game, concluding the 2-hour, 20-minute match in a very warm gym.
Bossom, who credited River Hill for its solid effort, was perplexed by his team's collapse in the fourth game. "I have no idea," he said. "We'll discuss before practice why that happened."
Pub Date: 9/17/97