R. Hill solves Centennial finally, wins county title

Hawks' four-game victory 1st over Eagles since 1999


November 01, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

When River Hill finally shook the Centennial monkey from its back last night and won the Howard County volleyball championship, 3-1, the hardest part may have been deciding just how to celebrate.

There was screaming, of course - the kind one might expect from the Hawks after an emotional win, 15-7, 10-15, 16-14, 16-14. Countless times, it seemed, River Hill (12-2) had been poised to unseat Centennial (13-2), yet the Hawks had always seemed to come up short. Until last night, that is.

There was candy, too - lollipops from coach Sybil Modispatcher serving as River Hill's reward for its scrappy defensive play. Each time Centennial seemed about to wrestle away the match's momentum with a blistering kill, a Hawk dug it up. The entire lineup got in on the act: Krystal Jacobson and Megan Mitchell each had 16 digs, Ali Kupec added 11, and Rosana Drake and Robin Smith had seven apiece.

Perhaps most importantly, there was singing. With trophy in hand, River Hill boarded its bus belting at full volume lyrics to Eric Carmen's '70s power ballad "All By Myself," an appropriate tune for an important moment. The Hawks, who won their second county title, had beaten the Eagles for the first time since 1999.

"I think our best quality as a team is our sheer determination and our heart," said Drake, one of the Hawks' four seniors. "I think we've got the most heart in the whole county. That's what pulled us through tonight. We didn't let anything touch the ground, and we kept each other up when we needed to."

Jacobson was her typical self, putting away big points when River Hill desperately needed them. The 6-foot senior led her team with nine kills and got better as the match went on, even digging up a difficult ball on match point to help the Hawks slam the door in a tight fourth game.

"It was all heart tonight," she said. "It feels so good to get a win against Centennial. We pushed and gave everything we had. I can't put it into words, really."

River Hill was sharp on its serves, which may have been the difference. In the first game, Mitchell ran eight straight points on her serve to win 15-7. In the third game, the Hawks owned a tight one with the help of five aces. For the match, Centennial had an uncharacteristic 23 service errors. Lindsay Feller led Centennial with 10 kills and added five aces.

"Mental mistakes really cost us," said Eagles coach Mike Bossom. "When you play against a good team, you can't make those mistakes. They capitalized and got key side outs, which they turned into points. River Hill was great tonight. They came to win."

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