Few things in sports are guaranteed, but when Centennial plays in a state volleyball final, it's a given state championship for Howard County.
The No. 2 Eagles (17-3) made it 8-for-8 in state finals yesterday at Catonsville Community College by sweeping North Hagerstown (17-3) in the Class 2A final by scores of 15-10, 15-12 and 15-1.
In winning their third championship in a row and seventh during the '90s, the Eagles broke their tie with Catonsville, Williamsport and Wootton for most state titles. Centennial first got to the state semifinals in 1981, but was eliminated in that round.
The eighth title was the fourth in five years for coach Mike Bossom, who succeeded his former boss Bill Shook, winner of the first four beginning in 1989.
Bossom's first two were in Class 3A, the last two in 2A and setter Lisa Chapman has been an integral part of the last three.
"It shows we had a successful season and you can't ask for anything better than going out with a state championship, " said Chapman.
Chapman, one of just three seniors on the team, led a faster, quicker Centennial to the three-game sweep of the Hubs despite the latter's state record 48-for-48 serving in the match.
Senior Jen Anderson's combined 40-for-40 serving in the state semifinals set a state record, but the Hubs were no match for the Eagles' offensive speed and passing.
The 5-foot-6 Chapman and her teammates showed their quickness and ability to run a variety of plays to counteract the Hub's employment of high sets.
"Our offense was faster and we adjusted easily to their high sets and they couldn't catch up to the fast tempo, " said Chapman who was 13-for-14 serving with ten service points and 32 assists.
Outside hitters, senior Julie Taury and junior Kim Emrich were 14-for-15 with one ace and nine service points and 14-for-16 with two aces and 10 service points, respectively. Sophomore Carolyn Dougherty was 12-for-13 with one ace and 10 points.
Emrich also had 12 kills and 6-foot freshman Lindsay Feller and Taury added seven each. Juniors Beth Stradling added six kills and 6-foot Amanda Olsen, who had two blocks, had five kills.
"Our depth was a key factor," said Bossom, who has coached the three seniors (Rachel Alpert the other) since they were age 14 in club ball.
"In practice every day, our starters go against a team that pushes them to the limit. I have faith in a lot of players."
Centennial raced out to a 12-3 lead in the first game before winning 15-10. The Eagles started slow in game two, as the Hubs built a 7-1 lead.
"We weren't worried, nobody got down," said Chapman. "We just knew it would be harder to come back and we did."
The Eagles kept pecking away and finally caught up at 9-9 on Stradling's service point. They took the lead for good at 11-10 on a point by Emrich and went on to a crucial 15-12 decision.
Game three was academic as the Eagles breezed to a 14-0 lead and subsequent 15-1 title clincher.
"The second game was definitely the key, " said Hubs coach Tracy McKinsey, whose girls lost to Centennial in last year's final by 15-0, 15-7, 15-9 and had 10 returnees from that team.
"I thought we stood a good chance coming in this year, but they played well all the way around. They had great passing which makes your offense run a lot smoother."
Six-foot twins Elizabeth and Mariel Davenport-Pollock led Montgomery County's Walt Whitman (20-0) to a sweep of top-ranked Severna (18-2) in the state championship game at Catonsville Community College.
The Vikings won their first state title in their third state semifinal appearance by defeating the Falcons, 15-6, 16-14 and 15-3.
Pub Date: 11/22/98