Incumbent Centennial reigns for 4th year

Seniors Emrich, Stradling help beat Key, claim 4th consecutive 2A state title

Volleyball state finals

High Schools

November 21, 1999|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Four-for-four has a nice ring to it for Kim Emrich and Beth Stradling.

The two seniors capped their careers at Centennial by winning their fourth consecutive state volleyball championship as the top-ranked Eagles swept Francis Scott Key, 15-8, 15-6, 15-11, in the Class 2A state final at CCBC-Catonsville yesterday.

Since 1989, Centennial (18-2) has won a state crown in every year but 1990 and 1995. The state record of nine volleyball titles are two more than Catonsville, Williamsport and Thomas S. Wootton, which are all tied for second with seven crowns each.

For Stradling, winning her fourth in four years was "amazing."

"I can't believe that I've been on a team that has won four straight state championships," said Stradling, an outside hitter. "I can't say that I know too many people who have."

Emrich, an outside hitter, said she wasn't surprised by the accomplishment.

"When I walked into our first practice [as a freshman], I knew that it could be done," Emrich said. "Practices were always intense, and we had the ability."

Centennial coach Michael Bossom has coached Stradling and Emrich since they began playing on his club volleyball team when they were 13.

"They were there when it started," Bossom said. "They know what it takes, and they remind the underclassmen of what it takes to get here."

Centennial reached the finals on the strength of five straight three-game victories in the regionals and state semifinal. The school continued its winning ways against No. 5 Francis Scott Key (17-3), which has won five state titles.

The Eagles exploded in the first game, racing out to a 9-0 lead and winning comfortably, 15-8. Senior middle hitter Amanda Olsen recorded six blocks and four kills in the first game.

Key gained its first -- and only -- lead of the match in the second game as Centennial slipped to a 5-4 deficit. But sophomore middle hitter Lindsay Feller registered two kills and three blocks to help the Eagles win 10 of the next 11 points and the second game, 15-6.

The beginning of the third game mirrored the first as Centennial opened an 8-2 lead. But two kills and two blocks by Key junior middle hitter Sam Stambaugh helped the Carroll County school narrow the gap to 12-11.

But an ace by Emrich, a kill attempt by Stambaugh that sailed long and an unforced Key error clinched the game, at 15-11, and the state title for Centennial.

Olsen, who finished with eight blocks and touched many Key kill attempts, said the Eagles wanted to exploit Key's sets.

"They set the ball very high," Olsen said of Key. "That gave us time to close the block."

Thoughts of a fifth straight state crown were distant for Bossom, who marveled at Emrich and Stradling's achievement.

"It speaks for itself," Bossom said. "Coming to practice five days, sometimes six days a week, for two hours and then going to club practices and games, that level of commitment speaks volumes of their determination and dedication. I'm going to miss them."

Class 4A

Dulaney 3, Montgomery Blair 2: In an exhausting two-and-a-half hour match, the Lions pulled out a 15-11, 12-15, 13-15, 15-11, 15-12 victory over Blair.

For a team that had lost only one game all season, the Lions (20-0) proved their mettle in the grueling marathon by coming from 11-9 down to win the fourth game and 12-10 down to win the fifth.

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