When the Centennial volleyball team makes a mistake, tradition dictates that the players drop to the floor and roll over backwards as punishment and as a way to refocus. The Eagles did not need to execute the maneuver much last night, though, as they cruised to a 25-10, 31-29, 25-12 victory over Towson in a Maryland 3A semifinal.
The top-ranked Eagles, who won the last of their 10 state titles in 2000, dominated Towson at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum behind solid serving and good hitting by seniors Margot Phelan and Alana Eller and junior Allison Cappelaere. Centennial (19-0) will face Seneca Valley in Saturday's 2:30 p.m. state final.
Phelan led the Eagles with a team-high 13 kills; Eller added nine and Cappelaere had five. The kills resulted from Centennial's service game -- junior Jennifer Feldmann and sophomore Quinn Kasey had eight aces apiece -- which allowed the Eagles to pass more effectively.
"Their serves were deep and they were mixing it up," said Towson senior Kellie Krouse, who had five kills. "We've never seen serving like that. I think some of the girls were intimidated. We're not used to those. It means we couldn't pass, set up hits."
Said Feldmann: "I think our jump serving has been aggressive all year. It's important . . . because it puts opposing teams out of their system."
Seneca Valley Advances
While Centennial will try to add another chapter to its impressive history Saturday, Seneca Valley will get a rare taste of a state title match. The fifth-ranked Eagles earned their first berth in a state championship match since 1991 with a 25-22, 25-17, 25-14 victory over No. 8 Huntingtown in the semifinals.
In that 1991 title match, Seneca Valley lost to Centennial, for the second of Centennial's 10 titles.
Seneca Valley, which has dropped one game in going 18-0 this season, continued its remarkable run behind three players who finished with four or more aces. Julie Gassert led the Eagles with a team-high five aces; Priscilla DeOliveira and Krista Eschelman added four each.
"I think we were a bit overwhelmed," Huntingtown Coach Cheryl Lord said. "We never could get into a rhythm. They hit the ball hard and had some good servers."
With a 14-13 lead in the third game, Gassert won nine straight points to lift Seneca Valley to a 23-14 lead that Huntingtown would never threaten. In the second game, DeOliveira provided 10 straight points on serve -- including three aces -- to give Seneca Valley a commanding 22-13 lead.
"We've served a lot better . . . in the past couple of games," Eschelman said. "Overall, we just played a really solid match. Its amazing that we've come this far and we're headed to the championship."