Century coach Bryan Trumbo pumped his fist into the air as he was carried by assistant coach Nick Monteil to the center of the court to join the celebration.
Knights junior Mary Huber had just delivered the match point, a kill set up by senior setter Ali Whitworth, to help the Knights capture the Class 2A state championship in a four-set victory over Oakdale (25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 25-16) at University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum on Saturday.
Senior libero Ally Everton said she started to cry when she looked up at the score after Huber’s attack hit the ground.
“I think we have a swagger about ourselves where we don’t waver,” Everton said. “I think we all have confidence in each other that we can win.”
Everton notched 21 digs for the Knights on defense. Senior Caroline Mastria led the offense with 17 kills, sophomore Eva Brandt had eight kills, and junior Maria Acaron notched five in the Knights’ second state final appearance, and first since Trumbo’s sister Becky Groves led the Knights to a state title in 2011.
“We want to congratulate Oakdale on a great season,” Trumbo said. “They have ended our season I don’t know how many times in a row, but they're a great team to play. What a way to finally be able to beat them in the biggest setting.
“They had a great season and they really did a nice job banding together with the loss of Sydney [Katz].”
Oakdale lost Katz, a senior setter, to a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Walkersville in the first round of playoffs. Still, the Bears never faltered. They beat the Lions in straight sets, and edged defending state champion Williamsport in five to earn a spot in the state quarterfinals.
The Bears swept Sparrows Point and La Plata to set up Saturday’s state final against Century.
The Knights swept each of their previous playoff opponents to advance to the state title game against the Bears, but the Bears battled back in the third set to avoid another sweep.
“I said to the girls before the fourth game, I said that’s not how we want to win a state championship by them handing it to us,” Trumbo said. “We need to earn this and game three was not our style of play. We were really able to pick it up and win commandingly in that fourth game.”
Century and Oakdale played balanced through the first two sets, but the Knights used powerful hitting that included seven kills from Mastria to capitalize on a few late Bears errors to capture the 2-0 lead.
The Knights committed 21 service errors in the match, eight in the third set alone. The Bears used those errors to their advantage, only lost the lead once early in the set, and pulled out a win to force a fourth game.
The Knights held on to the lead in the fourth set and used a 7-0 scoring run to build a 10-3 lead over the Bears. A kill from freshman hitter Kalia Espenlaub trimmed the deficit to 10-4 and the Bears got another point off a service error from Mastria.
Trumbo called a timeout with his Knights leading 16-11 to remind the girls to stay composed and play for one another. Stay composed they did — until Huber punched down the match-winning kill to secure the title victory.
Oakdale’s Jess Twilley and Jen Chomiak each had nine kills, and Twilley added 18 digs.
“I think we work well together,” said Whitworth, a transfer from Liberty. “We know what we’re running and if someone is off, just go to another player and they’re going to put the ball down eventually.