Teams with championship aspirations many times look back at pivotal moments early in their seasons as a turning point.
There are plenty of matches remaining for Century High School’s volleyball team, but the Knights got a little dose of that adversity in Tuesday’s Carroll County Athletic League opener against Winters Mill.
They enjoyed a rout in the first set before battling a more focused Falcons bunch in the second. In fact, the reigning co-county champs were two points away from evening the match.
Century regrouped, however, and took the second set before finishing off a 25-13, 26-24, 25-17 county win.
“I think we’re coming together pretty well,” said Eva Brandt, Century’s sophomore middle hitter. “There’s still some stuff that we have to work on individually, and clicking together. But otherwise I feel good about this season."
Brandt’s kill late in the second set cut Winters Mill’s lead to 23-20, and the 6-footer took her turn on the serve line. Four points later, the Knights had a 24-23 advantage (Brandt served up an ace in that run as well).
The Falcons drew even on a serving error, but Century took the next two points for a 2-0 lead in the match.
Caroline Kennell, a senior outside hitter, had nine kills to go with nine digs for the Knights, while junior opposite hitter Mary Huber collected 14 points and Brandt had three blocks.
Ali Whitworth, a senior setter who came to Century from Liberty via transfer, totaled 20 assists and nine digs.
The Knights (2-0) pulled away in the third set and senior libero Allie Everton (15 digs) served the final three points for the victory.
Winters Mill got to within 19-16, on a kill and ace from senior Sarah Owens, but senior outside hitter Carolina Mastria hammered home a kill to make to 20-16.
“We all have this natural fire in us that we all want to win,” Huber said. “Yeah, volleyball is fun. But fun for us is winning, and we like to work together as a team to accomplish that goal.”
Winters Mill (0-1) fell behind big in the first set, but collected itself after that. The Falcons took advantage of some Century errors to build a lead in the second set, and senior middle hitter Camryn Foley anchored their front row.
But the Knights were too much for coach Kari Totten’s young squad, a squad that lost six regulars — including three first-team all-county selections — from its Class 2A West Regional finalist finish in 2018.
Still, Totten said she liked the way Winters Mill hung in Tuesday’s match. Sophomore setter Sarah Buckingham paced the offense with 10 assists, and Foley finished with four blocks.
Mastria had five kills for Century, and her energy gave the Knights a spark in a few crucial moments. Mastria, a returning first-team all-county player, figures to get her share of attention from opposing defenses.
Then again, she has plenty of help on her side.
“We always like to rally with each other, no matter what just play together as a team,” Huber said. “We definitely felt the momentum shift [in the second set], and the game is all about momentum.”
Century finished third in the CCAL standings last year behind Winters Mill and co-county champion Westminster, and while its season was successful Trumbo said the Knights were left wanting more.
They have a chance to get more in 2019, the coach said, if they stick together.
“Our serve and pass game was not where it needed [to be], and then that affected our connection with our setter and our hitters,” Trumbo said. “We’re not happy when we just win 3-0. We’d rather play cleaner.”