For Trisha Mockapetris, a trip back to the state championship was a must. On Wednesday night, Mockapetris and her Centennial teammates made sure that happened.
The No. 2 Eagles played an aggressive but smart style to defeat La Plata of Charles County, 25-13, 25-14, 25-10, in the Class 3A state volleyball semifinals at Ritchie Coliseum.
Centennial (18-0) will face defending Class 3A champion North Hagerstown in the title game Friday at 8 p.m. at Ritchie Coliseum. The Hubs defeated No. 4 Bel Air, 3-0, in the other semifinal.
Mockapetris, a senior and three-time first team All-Metro Player of the Year, played in the state championship two years ago when the Eagles were upset by Towson. She said that memory has driven her and her Centennial teammates to go all out this year.
"Twenty three," Mockapetris said. "That's the number of service errors we had in the [2010 title] game. It still sticks in my mind. This was our goal from the beginning of the season. We wanted to avenge that loss. We want to bring the tradition back."
The tradition Mockapetris speaks of is winning state titles. The Eagles will be playing for their 15th state championship Friday night, more than any other school in Maryland.
Mockapetris led Centennial with 21 kills. Heidi Rottman had 14 assists to lead La Plata.
"North Hagerstown is a good team, and we need to play our best," Centennial coach Larry Schofield said. "We have a great group to carry the torch for us. Trisha is my terminator, and Meghan Kelley [a sophomore who had 11 kills] is right behind her."
The Eagles will face North Hagerstown, which defeated Bel Air 25-19, 25-10, 25-11. The size and power of the front line of the Hubs (17-1) — especially senior Peyton Wallech (17 kills) — were too much for Bel Air (19-1) to overcome.
"They were the better team tonight," Bel Air junior Celeste Roland said. "We did the best we could, but we came up short."
In many cases, the Bobcats were their own worst enemies. Missed defensive opportunities and several serving errors led to Bel Air falling into big holes early in the first two sets, and they were never able to climb out of them. The Bobcats fell behind 4-0 in both games, and their rallies fell short.
Bel Air played their best game in the third set. After falling behind, the Bobcats used kills by Tia Howard and Rowland to cut the margin to 10-8. Bel Air couldn't get closer as the Hubs went on a 15-3 run to put the set away.
"We just didn't play our best game," Bel Air coach Tim Markland said. "We lost to a very good North Hagerstown team, and our serve-receive wasn't where we wanted it to be. I'm still very proud of the girls and their effort. We wanted to win, but it was all about the journey, and our girls never quit."
(at U of MD Ritchie Coliseum)
North Hagerstown d Bel Air 25-19, 25-10, 25-11
Centennial d LaPlata 25-13, 25-14, 25-10