Centennial wins 3rd straight title in 3A, 13th in all

Eagles hand Huntingtown its first loss

Volleyball

November 19, 2006|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- The players' body language in the huddle before the fourth game of yesterday's state Class 3A volleyball championship told the whole story.

The Centennial players were dancing to the music and laughing. The Huntingtown players were still and quiet.

When the huddle broke, No. 3 Centennial stepped onto the court and took a 7-3 lead. Even as the previously unbeaten Hurricanes of Calvert County rallied to tie at 7, the Eagles stayed poised and never trailed en route to a 24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 25-21 victory at Ritchie Coliseum for their 13th state title and their third straight.

Michelle Grasso led the Eagles with 14 kills, while Tehya Mockapetris had 11 and Liana Farb nine. Setter Kristina Swan dished out 35 assists.

As soon as the match ended, the Centennial parents unrolled a banner proclaiming: "Centennial Eagles, 2006 state volleyball champions." No team has won more titles.

"There's always expectations for Centennial to win," Mockapetris said. "It is really pressure on us. We feel like if we lose, we're breaking a tradition and a legacy, but we work really hard throughout the season."

Despite the pressure, the Eagles (16-1) kept their cool against a balanced, hard-hitting Hurricanes team (17-1) that has been to the state final twice in its three years as a varsity program.

"We have confidence in ourselves, confidence in our players," Grasso said, "and we went out there with that confidence. That's what helped us stay relaxed, stay having fun. Focused fun is what we had the entire time."

The fourth game was tied at 8, 9, 10 and 12 before Centennial's Kasey Quinn served three straight aces to give the Eagles a small edge. Mockapetris, Grasso and Farb combined for six kills, and Grasso had a key block as the Eagles closed out the match.

Centennial coach Jerry Hulla said Quinn's run of aces was a key in a match in which neither team expected to hold the momentum for long.

"Anytime you can get three points like that, it's certainly going to help," Hulla said, "because we expected [the match] to be most of what it was, very tight the entire time, back and forth. ... When you've got teams that are that good, it's going to come down to a mistake or two or one great play."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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