Many area volleyball fans thought Friday's match between Centennial and North Hagerstown would be a dream to watch. It turned out to be a nightmare for the No. 2 Eagles.
North Hagerstown (18-1) outscored, played better defense and hustled more than Centennial (18-1) to win its second consecutive Class 3A title, 25-20, 25-22, 25-12, at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum tonight.
Peyton Wallech led the Hubs with 21 kills, while Trisha Mockapetris led Centennial with 15 kills. Lexi White-Torruellas contributed 19 assists for Centennial.
"We got beaten by a better team," Centennial coach Larry Schofield said. "We didn't execute the way we wanted to. The way they played they took us right out of our game. They started hitting those tips, and they got into our heads."
North Hagerstown sophomore Zoe Schreiber was excellent at the service line, and the Hubs scored 17 points on her serve.
"Serve-receive is usually one of our strengths. It's something we practice every day," Schofield said. "They stay aggressive with their serving, and we got a little passive. "
North Hagerstown got stronger as the match progressed, building its lead in each successive set. Centennial actually had a four-point lead in each of the first two sets, but every time the Eagles rallied, the Hubs had an answer. In the end, Centennial was beaten by tips over the net in the first game, and by not defending the back row in the last two.
"We try to win the mini-games within a set," Mockapetris said. "The first to five. The first to 10. The first to 15. We did that in both of the first two sets, but we just couldn't close them out."
Centennial fell behind 4-1 in the third set, and the Hubs continued to lengthen the lead.
The North Hagerstown offense was very opportunistic, taking advantage of many holes left in the Centennial defense. The Hubs also did a great of keeping the ball away from Mockapetris, and the Eagles had trouble setting her. When she got the ball, she was very effective. The opportunities, however, were few and far between.
"We teach our setters to get the ball to all of our frontline players. That gives us a balanced attack," Schofield said. "All of our hitters needed to be ready, but we were tentative at times. We always tell them that when things fall apart, you go back to basics. We didn't go back to basics tonight."
In the Class 1A championship, Washington County's Smithsburg (18-3) won its fourth consecutive state title (and ninth overall), defeating Perryville (13-7), 25-10, 25-5, 25-4. Smithsburg also beat Perryville in the final last season. The match took only 44 minutes to complete.
Amanda Snowden led the Leopards with 10 kills. Perryville's Morgan Tennant chipped in with seven assists in a losing effort for Perryville.