No. 1 Centennial needs 39 minutes to top Loch Raven Eagles yield just 6 points in easy state semifinal

November 13, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Wham! Pow! Slam!

Top-ranked Centennial needed only 39 minutes last night to dismantle No. 9 Loch Raven, 15-0, 15-2, 15-4, in a Class 2A state semifinal match at Essex Community College.

"That's the best team I've ever played against," said Loch Raven coach Carol McPherson, now in her 17th coaching season. "They are just unbelievable."

The Eagles (19-0) will play North Hagerstown, a 15-0, 15-6, 15-9 winner over 10th-ranked South River, in Saturday's noon championship match at Catonsville Community College.

Centennial, which has held the No. 1 ranking in the Baltimore area since last year's preseason poll, has won six state titles, including five of the last six years. The Eagles have lost only three games this season and have a 46-game winning streak.

"I cannot describe what I feel like," said McPherson. "We got a lesson in volleyball, and we'll learn by it.

"I feel badly for my team, because they are better than what they showed," McPherson added.

Centennial, which hasn't lost in two years, took nine minutes -- including two Loch Raven timeouts -- to win the first game.

"We couldn't serve, we couldn't pass," McPherson said. "We looked scared to death, and it showed."

Said Loch Raven's Jill Bishop, who led her team with four kills: "We weren't moving. That was basically it. We could have played better, but unfortunately, we didn't. I would have rather gone down with a fight."

Centennial senior Briana Zolak, a first-team All-Metro selection last year, was unstoppable. She led the Eagles with six kills, but her defense was just as spectacular. She dove to the floor with reckless abandon, and on one point in the second game had two pancake saves.

"I love the opportunity to drive for the ball," said Zolak. "That's one of my favorite things."

A weakness of Centennial this season has been its inability at times to stay focused and aggressive. But not against the Raiders (13-6).

"Usually, we have a tendency to slack off," Zolak said, "but we really kept it up. We stayed aggressive the entire match."

And that was what Centennial coach Mike Bossom was most proud of.

"That's the best hustling defense we've had," said Bossom, now in his fourth season. "They touched everything. No matter what the score was, they never gave up. They maintained their focus."

No one had a bad game for the Eagles.

Robyn West, one of seven seniors on the team, hit and served with power and accuracy. She had five kills. Beth Stradling, a sophomore, had four kills, Kathleen O'Connor, three, and Michelle Flather, two.

"I was very impressed with us," said West.

No one would argue.

Many Centennial players will head to College Park tomorrow, when former Eagles standout Meredith Price returns to the area with North Carolina State (11-20), which plays 15th-ranked Maryland (23-0) at 7 p.m. at Ritchie Coliseum on U.S. 1.

Price, last year's Howard County and metro Player of the Year, is starting for the Wolfpack. She has 56 kills in 86 games.

Admission is free.

Pub Date: 11/13/97

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