Centennial, Towson advance to 3A final

State Volleyball

November 13, 2008|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,Special to The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - Centennial and Northern of Calvert County both entered last night's Class 3A state semifinal undefeated. Both had dropped just two games during the season. Both knew something had to give and only one would be standing when the dust settled.

The one turned out to be top-ranked Centennial.

The Eagles (19-0) overcame a case of early nerves in the first game, then battled their way through two more to defeat Northern (17-1), 25-21, 25-15, 25-20, and advance.

Centennial will play Towson, a 3-0 winner over Damascus of Montgomery County in the first semifinal, in the 3A state championship. That game will be played Monday at 6 p.m. at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.

Neither team had trailed in any match during the year, so Centennial's win in the first game was pivotal.

"I looked at my assistant [after the loss in the first game] and said 'We needed that one,' " Northern coach Devin Hall said. "We new that now we would have to work twice as hard after that point."

The Eagles played as a team, with Samantha Brostrom (nine kills), Ashley Fan (eight kills), Sarah Hall (seven kills) and Elizabeth Brown (seven kills) providing the power up front, and setter Jackie Hawkins (20 assists) setting them up.

"Winning that first game was a huge confidence booster for us," Fan said. "It really pumped us up. It was a great way to start, but we knew we had to keep our focus. Luckily, we did."

Northern used kills by Shelby Mass (16 assists) and Kelly Fagan (12 kills) to cut a 20-15 lead to 20-18 in the third game, but the Eagles got three kills by Brostrom and a block by Hall to outscore the Patriots 5-2 down the stretch and take the match.

"We knew entering the season that we had a huge target on our back," said Eagles coach Larry Schofield, whose team has led The Baltimore Sun's rankings all year. "I didn't see any evidence of us cracking under the pressure, and I still don't. Everybody wants to take their best shot at us. Now we just have to win one more game."

In the first semifinal, fourth-ranked Towson (17-2) used a team-oriented, patient offense and a great night at the service line to defeat Damascus (11-7) of Montgomery County, 25-22, 25-19, 25-13. The Generals will be playing for their second state title Monday night. They won in 2001.

The Generals were led by Amelia Thomas' 13 kills and 11 digs. Kat Lincalis contributed 32 assists for the Generals, and Lauren Demarzo had 15 digs. Samantha Bonturi paced the Hornets with 13 kills.

"Tonight was about doing what you have to do with every ball. We had one serving error tonight in the match. We served tough," said Towson's rookie coach, Emily Berman, who played on Towson's 2001 state championship team. "We had several long rallies, and we won the ones we had to."

Towson controlled most of the run of play all night, and the Generals were able to exploit holes in the Hornets' defense and find open spots on the court. The Generals squeaked out a win in the first game but began to play stronger and stronger as the match progressed.

"I felt like we were in control the entire match," said Thomas, a senior. "We set goals each time we play, and we made them. We came alive on the court."

The Generals know they will have their hands full with Centennial, but that's all right with Berman.

"Is Centennial the defending state champion? No. There is no defending state champion. Any team can beat any other team on any given night. No one expected me to bring this team to where we are now, and [we're] not done yet."

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