Centennial rolls on toward another state crown Eagles smash McDonough in 3 games for region title


November 09, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

POMFRET -- What began as an intense, competitive match ended last night in a rout.

Top-ranked Centennial won a grueling, 28-minute first game, then got better as the match went on for a 15-9, 15-9, 15-1 victory over host McDonough for the Class 2A South region title.

The Eagles, winners of six state titles, five in the past six years, will play Loch Raven (13-5) Wednesday at 8 p.m. in a state semifinal match at Essex Community College.

Centennial, which needed five games to oust McDonough in a Class 3A state semifinal last year, played phenomenal defense, led by senior Briana Zolak.

"That was the least amount of balls we let hit all season," said Zolak, who had impressive kill shots to go along with her outstanding digs.

McDonough (16-2) made some excellent plays and took advantage of a shaky start by Robyn West to take a 7-5 lead in the first game. But Centennial won four points behind the serving of Beth Stradling and slowly pulled away.

"Had we let them win the first game, it would have been a more difficult climb," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom.

"It was big-time important," McDonough coach Gary Cook said of the first game. "We knew they were the better team, and it was key for our confidence. If we had got that emotional edge, it might have evened things out."

McDonough won the first three points of the second game, but Centennial (17-0 ) came back for a 6-4 lead. McDonough took its last lead of the match, 8-6, then watched the Eagles run off eight straight points.

Centennial took a 3-0 lead in the third game before McDonough got its only point on a Centennial error. Fittingly, the Eagles won the match on a Zolak kill.

Centennial's victory was team-earned. Kim Emrich came off the bench for West in the second game and played well. West re-entered the second game and, like her team, got stronger.

"We just lost to a better team," Cook said. "They might as well put their name on the [state] plaque. They are the best team in the state."

Pub Date: 11/09/97

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