Century celebrates after beating Fallston for the Class 2A… (Nicole Munchel, Patuxent…)
COLLEGE PARK -- To be a champion, the Century had to beat one.
The No. 6 Knights use a powerful front line and a rock-solid defense to defeat defending state champ Fallston, 23-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-21 and win the state Class 2A volleyball title Saturday at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum. It was the program’s first title in its first trip to the state tournament.
The Century (18-1) game plan was predicated on stopping No. 5 Fallston’s Rachael Holehouse. Although the Knights didn’t totally succeed in that effort — Holehouse finished with 32 kills and 10 digs — they did frustrate her and limit her effectiveness.
“She’s an incredible player,” Century coach Becky Groves said. “We had to score our points when she was in the back row, and we did. She was the reason that team was here playing against us. “
Fallston (19-3) looked like it would repeat as champion early in the match. After winning the first set, Fallston took a 7-1 lead in the second.
Gradually the Knights used the kills of Abby Thrift (19 kills) and Morgan Thomas (16 kills) to wear down the smaller Cougars. Century eventually tied the set at 19-19, and took the lead for good, 22-21, on a tap over the next by Alyssa Dixon. The Cougars cut the lead to 24-23 on a Holehouse kill, but Century used a net violation to take the set 25-23.
The Cougars looked like they’d regain the lead in the match when they led the second set 26-25 on an Abby Claiborne kill, but the Knights got two kills from Thrift and one from Thomas to take the set.
The fourth set followed the same pattern, with Fallston taking the lead only to be overtaken by the Knights. After tying the game at 20-20, the Knights used kills by Thomas (two) and Thrift (one) to go on a 5-1 run and win the title.
“This is surreal right now,” Groves said. “We had a great group of seniors, and we played better defense down the stretch.”
Fallston coach Ali Winaker said she was satisfied with the effort her team made.
“We played really well,” said Winaker, who lost her first match to a Maryland team in two years as head coach. “Give Century credit, they came ready to play. We made some mistakes, and they capitalized on their opportunities.”