Just before their Maryland 3A championship match Friday night, Centennial stood on the baseline as the Ritchie Coliseum public address announcer read off the year of each of the Eagles’ state-record 14 championships. The list provided an audible reminder of the history Centennial’s seniors had to live up to.
The Eagles fell short of adding to their title haul, falling in three sets to defending 3A champion North Hagerstown, 25-20, 25-22, 25-12. It was the second time in three years that Centennial lost in the state final.
“I think that we knew from the get-go that it was our job to bring the tradition back,” senior setter Lexi White-Torruellas said. “Centennial has the tradition of trying to win states, and we knew from the beginning. I don’t think it made us play tighter, I just think it maybe got to us a little bit mentally.”
Centennial built leads in each of the first two sets, jumping out to a 12-8 advantage in the first set and 10-6 lead in the second. The Hubs found answers to every Eagle lead, however, leaning on tips that fell for points over and over again and sophomore Zoe Schreiber’s work at the service line to create runs that helped North Hagerstown close out each of the first two sets.
“We got beat by a better team — flat out,” Centennial Coach Larry Schofield said. “That kind of got in our heads. They were like piranhas smelling fish in the water and they came after us. They did a great job. They were relentless. They were definitely the better team tonight.”
Eagles senior Trisha Mockapetris attempted to rally her teammates in between sets, gathering them in the corners to refocus. But there was no hiding from the noise Friday, with sizeable student sections from both schools cheering loudly enough to drown out any attempt at communication on the court.
Playing in her final game for Centennial, Mockapetris finished with 15 kills. Sophomore Meghan Kelley, who had nine kills in Centennial’s semifinal victory over La Plata, finished with only two.
“I think we came off a high. We came off really good games,” Mockapetris said. “We wanted it, but we were playing not to lose. We didn’t play to win. We were scared every time we touched the ball. . . . Everyone was second-guessing themselves when they should have just gone out there and played, including myself.”