In last night's Maryland 3A volleyball final at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum, No. 3 Centennial further cemented itself as one of the most dominant powerhouses in state history, capturing a record-setting 12th championship, dispatching Huntingtown in three games, 25-14, 25-22, 25-21.
After coasting past the Hurricanes in the opening game, and surviving a back-and-forth second game that featured eight ties and five lead changes, the Eagles found themselves behind, 18-13, midway through the third set when Coach Michael Bossom inserted sophomore Samantha Luo for the first time in the match. With Luo serving, Centennial went on an eight-point streak, getting key digs along the way from Luo and senior Sarah Gregorini that put the match out of reach.
"I already thanked her for making me look smart," said Bossom about his decision to insert Luo. "She consistently serves the ball and there are a lot of nice things she did that provided us with a spark."
Luo was just another part of a deep Centennial (19-1) offense that attacked Huntingtown (16-3) from all angles, getting eight kills apiece from Gregorini and middle hitter Michelle Grosso and seven kills each from outside hitters Tehya Mackapetris and Allison Cappelaere.
"It's an amazing thing to have so much depth on a team," said Gregorini, who was also a part of last year's championship team. "We could put any one of our girls in there when we need somebody."
Only a second-year school, Huntingtown was playing in its second state tournament after advancing to the semifinals a season ago, but nerves were a factor in the first game and, although the Hurricanes fought back in each of the next two games, they were no match for the experience of the Eagles.
"The girls are disappointed, but they have to be very proud of what they accomplished," said Huntingtown Coach Cheryl Lord. "Centennial is a very good team, no question, but they made them sweat a little bit."