Centennial's Margot Phelan felt the Howard County volleyball title slipping away as the senior outside hitter walked to junior setter Jen Feldmann, who was ready to serve.
Three-time defending county champion Glenelg had taken a seven-point lead in the third game and appeared on the verge of taking a two-games-to-one advantage last night in Ellicott City.
"I was getting worried," Phelan said. "But I was also confident I could kill the ball if I got the chance, so I just asked Jen to set me."
And that's what Feldmann did, making an array of perfect lobs to Phelan, who registered six of her match-high 15 kills during an 8-0 run that also included two Feldmann aces.
That run propelled the undefeated and top-ranked Eagles to a 25-11, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22 victory over No. 6 Glenelg.
"I was comfortable when we were up 16-9 in the third game and then they made that run that changed the entire game," said Glenelg Coach Don Beall, whose team fell to 12-2, with both losses to Centennial. "Margot was just phenomenal for them, especially during that run. We couldn't stop her."
The Eagles (15-0), who had lost in the county championship to Glenelg in each of the previous three seasons, earned their first county title since 2000 and county-high 13th overall.
"Our first goal is to win the county title, and we took care of it, and now we can focus on trying to win the [Maryland 3A East] Region tournament and state tournament," Centennial Coach Mike Bossom said. "The way we won tonight was very gratifying for me as a coach, because it showed the character we have as a team."
After Centennial recorded seven aces to cruise in the first game, Glenelg evened the match in the second game. It marked just the third game Centennial has lost in 15 matches this season, and the first by the team's starting lineup.
Glenelg opened the fourth game with a 7-4 lead, but Phelan recorded five kills and sophomore outside hitter Kasey Quinn recorded two of her six kills for the Eagles.
Centennial, which already had earned the top seed in the 3A East Region tournament, will play the Crossland-Surrattsville winner in Monday's quarterfinals as it begins its quest for its second consecutive region title and first state championship since 2000.
"We've talked all season about playing hard as a team and being aggressive, and everyone contributed so we could beat Glenelg," said Feldmann, who finished with five aces. "If we keep playing the way we did against Glenelg for the rest of the season, we'll be fine. We still have two more goals."
Meantime, Glenelg, which was led by senior outside hitter Rebecca Tursell's 14 kills, will enter the 2A South Region tournament as the second seed. The Gladiators have won the tournament in each of the past three seasons.
The Gladiators will host the winner of Potomac-Forestville in Monday's quarterfinals.