Last year, Meghan Kelley was used to standing in the shadows as a freshman for Centennial. Yesterday, she tried a new role: the star.
Kelley went on three serving runs in the first two sets to help No. 2 Centennial defeat No. 5 Mount Hebron, 25-19, 25-18, 25-22. Kelley contributed nine kills and five aces in Centennial's season opener.
"I didn't even have her in the starting lineup a few days ago," said Centennial head coach Larry Schofield. "I put her in as a right side hitter, a position she was not familiar with, and she did a great job today."
Kelley certainly picked a good time to step up. The Eagles rely on senior All-Metro first-teamer Trisha Mockapetris for leadership, but she was having an off day by her standards (13 kills). Enter Kelley, who seemed to take over with her serving and serve as a calming influence for Centennial.
"We worked together well as a team," Kelley said. "We are really a close team, and we act as a family. Our goal is to hang another state championship banner on that wall over there."
You could see the rust early in the match as the Vikings (0-2, 0-1), led by sisters Morgan and Erin Walter, sprinted out to a lead in the first set. Centennial was able to pull even, and the score remained close. With Centennial leading 16-15, Kelley served the next nine points to give the Eagles a 24-15 lead. The Vikings cut the lead to 24-19 before a service error by Erin Walter ended the set.
The Eagles sprinted out to an 8-5 lead in the second set, but Kelley's second serving run ran the lead to 12-5 early in the set. On her next serving opportunity, she chipped in four more service points — two of them aces — to run the lead to 24-17. Centennial closed out the set two points later with a 25-18 win.
Mount Hebron made the third game tight, but Centennial got two kills by Mockapetris and another ace by Kelley to close out the set, 25-22.
"They have a great team, and her serving gave them a great boost," Mount Hebron coach Michael Moynihan said. "We didn't play to win, but played not to lose. I think we saw the crowd and we were a little intimidated in the first two sets."