On a night when Century and Westminster played inspired volleyball for two pulsating hours, the Owls had the final word.
Westminster outlasted the Knights, 26-24, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22, and improved to 4-0.
“I think Century was the team that wanted to beat us the most this season,” said fifth-year coach Westminster coach Ed Benish, whose team is 3-0 against county foes with wins over Francis Scott Key and Manchester Valley as well as Linganore. “We went down 2-0 to Linganore in our first match of the season. We came back and won 3-2. We outplayed them that night.
“Tonight, Century wanted to beat us more. I think it was a great early-season test.”
No player stood out more than Jilienne Widener, Westminster’s 6-foot sophomore outside hitter.
The reigning Times Player of the Year finished with 24 kills and 16 digs. She had 15 kills in the first two games.
“She definitely has matured a lot in the last year,” Benish said. “She really has grown a with her mindset. She’s going point to point instead of just thinking about mistakes. On any given night, she takes over when we need her too and that is one of the best things about her.”
Benish was particularly pleased with the performance of sophomore setter Emily Stauder.
Stauder made the first start of her high school career and had 33 assists.
“Emily stepped up and took charge,” the coach said. “You could tell she was a little nervous, but she stayed composed and did her job. She’s the quarterback of the team.”
Westminster also received solid performances from senior outside hitter Sarah O’Donnell (11 digs), senior libero Hannah Jones (10 digs), and junior middle hitter Zoe Costley (6 kills, 3 blocks).
Senior outside hitter Melissa Bonzelet (15 kills, 12 digs, 6 aces), senior setter Gillian Sinnott (25 assists), senior outside hitter Allyson Windell (13 digs, 6 kills), and sophomore outside hitter Caroline Mastria (7 kills) led Century.
Mastria’s kill in the first set gave Century (3-1, 2-1) a 20-17 lead.
Westminster, however, closed strong by winning nine out of the last 11 points. Widener’s kill in the set finished off the Knights. She had nine kills in the first game.
Century rebounded in the second set. Westminster jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but the Knights quickly recovered and went ahead 12-8 on Windell’s ace.
Bonzelet’s kill won the set.
Century started fast in the third set, racing out to a 5-1 lead. But Westminster rallied and took the game.
“In years past, our team would have kept letting them have the lead,” Benish said. “One of our slogans is one point at a time and that’s what we did tonight.”
Costley’s dink finished Century in the third set.
“There were a couple of costly errors in game three, where we were ahead and could have taken it,” Century coach Bryan Trumbo said. “But we let back in.”
Westminster prevailed in the final set when Century returned an Owls serve into the net.
“Century is one of our biggest rivals and we just wanted to beat them,” Widener said. “We were going to leave it all on the floor and I definitely feel like we did.”