Perfect finish for Centennial 20-0 Eagles set host of records in winning their seventh state title

Class 2A volleyball

November 16, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

There were plenty of Briana Zolak kill shots and Robyn West aces to satisfy the crowd yesterday at the Class 2A state championship at Catonsville Community College.

And those two seniors certainly were important reasons why top-ranked Centennial defeated North Hagerstown, 15-0, 15-7, 15-9 to finish its second straight unbeaten season and earn a record-tying seventh state title.

But Centennial's greatest strength -- as it has shown throughout the playoffs -- is its depth. That was evident many times yesterday, but no more so then early in the third game when backcourt specialst Marcy Cangiano made two outstanding returns that allowed the Eagles to win a point.

"Marcy made some great plays for us," said Centennial's Mike Bossom.

So did many players. But that's Centennial. That's why the Eagles, who won last season's Class 3A state title, have been the area's No. 1 team since the beginning of last year.

"They have that sense of confidence when they walk out on the floor," said North Hagerstown coach Tracy McKinsey.

That confidence has been developed over a number of years. Three players -- Zolak, West and Kathleen O'Connor have played on the varsity for four years. Cangiano and Michelle Flather were on the varsity as sophomores. But that's only the beginning.

Bossom was an assistant coach under Bill Shook for the Columbia Condors 14-and-under club team when Zolak, West, Cangiano, Flather, O'Connor and Susan Yi were on the team. Five of those players were on the 16-and-under club team, and Melissa Bossel joined Zolak, West, Cangiano and Flather on last year's 18-and-under club team.

"It helps because you're more comfortable," Flather said. "You -- you know how the others play."

Centennial (20-0) was more than comfortable as it ended its season with three outstanding matches, beginning with the region final at McDonough. The Eagles were intense and focused, and their impressive semifinal and final victories earned them a number of tournament records.

Among them were the 29 aces (13 yesterday, 16 in semifinal against Loch Raven); fewest points allowed, 22 (16 yesterday, six against Loch Raven) and team kill efficiency, .327 (56 kills, 16 errors, 122 attempts).

West set a record with 12 aces in the tournament (six in both matches) and tied a record with five aces in one game. She did that in both semifinal and final matches. Zolak tied the mark for kill efficiency of .545 (20 kills, two errors, 33 attempts).

Zolak connected on 21 of 22 hits against North Hagerstown (17-3) and had 13 kills. She was 13 of 14 serving -- she had a number of excellent jump serves -- with two aces. West was 11 of 14 serving, and she had nine kills.

"This is great," Zolak said. "Our four years of hard work has paid off. It's an incredible feeling, but the fact that we're all not going to play again together, well, that's sad."

Seven players -- Zolak, West, Cangliano, Bossle, Yi, Flather and O'Connor -- will graduate.

"This was a great way to end," said West, "but I'm very sad because our team was so close."

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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