Centennial's Kelly closes out River Hill in four-game win

Setter secures final 5 pts. for eighth-ranked Eagles


High Schools

October 02, 2002|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Centennial junior setter Leanna Kelly bailed out her team yesterday afternoon.

With momentum swinging toward River Hill, Kelly served two aces and won the match's final five points on her serve to enable the eighth-ranked Eagles to fend off a furious comeback bid by the third-ranked Hawks, 15-9, 16-14, 14-16, 15-12, before a boisterous crowd in Clarksville.

Centennial (6-2, 6-1 Howard County) failed to close out the match in Game 3 after racing to a 6-0 lead. And in the fourth game, it seemed the Hawks (6-1, 6-1) had the Eagles on the ropes when they marched to an 8-2 lead. But with River Hill ahead 12-10 and in position to send the match to a fifth and deciding game, Kelly served up an ace to close the gap to 12-11, then another one for a 13-12 Eagles advantage after a net violation tied the score.

Junior hitter Oye Imoisili made a block to give the Eagles a 14-12 lead, and the Eagles closed the match on a River Hill error, all on Kelly's serve.

"Serving's one of my strong points," Kelly said. "We were all a little tired at the end and just had to push a little extra."

Finishing was a relief for Centennial after a wild two-hour affair that saw six-point leads evaporate in each of the final three games. In Game 2, River Hill stormed to 6-0, 7-1, 8-2 and 9-3 leads before Centennial came back. The Eagles responded with a 10-1 run to move up 13-10, but then lost four straight points on the serve of River Hill senior outside hitter Meredith Brooks.

But Centennial fought off River Hill's only game point, tied the score at 14 on a kill by junior outside hitter Erika Swan (11 kills) and later took the game thanks to a heads-up play by senior setter Molly Reitz.

On game point, Reitz made like she would set but instead turned at the last second and touched a soft ball over two River Hill blockers into an open space on the court to put Centennial ahead two games to none.

"We played with a lot of heart and intensity," Centennial coach Michael Bossom said. "The big thing is we showed we weren't going to panic based on the scoreboard. We played well, weathered their runs and were able to finish the match."

In the third game, it first appeared River Hill would succumb when Centennial reeled off six straight points. But led by senior setter Molly Miller, who finished with a game-high 18 assists, the Hawks rebounded to force a fourth game.

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