COLLEGE PARK - Fourth-ranked Centennial made a lot of errors in last night's Class 3A state volleyball semifinal, thanks to the aggressive play of Calvert.
The quicker Calvert team showed the Eagles why it had lost just two games all season, forcing Centennial into numerous mistakes and rolling to a 25-15, 26-24, 25-10 victory at Ritchie Coliseum.
Calvert advanced to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. state championship match vs. No. 2 Towson, which beat Seneca Valley in four games in last night's other state semifinal. Centennial finished with a 16-3 record.
The Cavaliers scored the first six points of the match and never looked back, needing just 63 minutes to ruin Centennial's first trip to the state final four since it won a state title in 2000.
Calvert (18-0) used a mixture of strong play at the net from Whitney Johnson (match-high 14 kills), good passing from setter Jessica Forsythe (match-high 30 assists) plus precise serving and good defense.
They also took advantage of the unusually large number of Centennial mistakes. The Eagles started four underclassmen and seemed to battle nerves early on. They had a lot of trouble with receiving serves, which stopped their offense from working well.
"We made a lot of [mistakes] and gave them a lot of free balls," Centennial coach Michael Bossom said. "They're pretty quick, but we made them look even faster."
Erika Swan has been Centennial's top player at the net this season, averaging three kills per game coming into the match. But she struggled, along with the rest of the offense, and finished with a team-high five kills. Jennifer Feldmann added 11 assists but the offense never got going.
"We weren't in our groove," Swan said of the team's problems receiving serves. "We just, I think, got a little caught up in not remembering the basics."
The problems began immediately, as Calvert jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first game and cruised to a quick victory. The second game proved to be the match's turning point, as the lead went back and forth.
The game was tied at 19 before Calvert started to take over. A controversial reversed call helped the Cavaliers take a 22-19 lead, but the Eagles rallied to tie the game at 24 on a good hit and block from Swan.
But a Johnson dink gave Calvert the lead, and Centennial followed with a wide hit to give the Cavaliers the game, a 2-0 lead and command of the match.
"We got it where there blockers weren't," Johnson said. "Our hitting was really good tonight."
Centennial fell apart in the third game. The Eagles stayed close early, but Calvert took advantage of the errors and quickly built up an 11-4 lead. Many of the problems again came on the serve receive.