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Zoch hits 21 kills, leads Atholton volleyball over Centennial

Atholton High School volleyball team beat Centennial High School volleyball in four sets in Columbia on September 15, 2016.

The Atholton gym fell silent when Centennial junior and all-county setter Emily Przybyla fell to the court clutching her left knee in the second set of a volleyball matchup between two top Howard County teams.

Fortunately Przybyla was able to get back on the court for the start of the third set and finished the match strong, but it proved to be the turning point in a 26-28, 25-11, 25-22, 25-23 Raiders win.

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"I think that was the turning point because I think once [Centennial] lost that second game, it was hard to come back from even with Emily back in there because we were starting to pick up our game," said Atholton coach Rob Moy. "It made it tougher for them."

In the end, though, the match was more about the Raiders and their ability to finish strong. With the score tied at 22 in the final two sets, Atholton won the third by scoring three straight points and the fourth by three of four.

Brooke Mason had a strong day for the Raiders with eight kills to go with 4 ½ blocks, Hope Kelly shelled out 26 assists, Kelly Simons pitched in six kills and 19 helpers and Sam Miller had seven kills. But sophomore outside hitter Lisa Zoch was the catalyst for Atholton, finishing with 21 of the team's 47 kills.

"I think in the end she was trying to be aware of where people were, especially the libero [Camryn Allen]," Moy said of Zoch. "For the most part she was playing smart, which is not easy."

Centennial coach Michael Bossom admitted his team struggled after Przybyla went down with the injury – the Raiders outscored the Eagles 14-5 with her on the sideline – but pinpointed the defeat simply on being outplayed.

"We're not playing very good volleyball, and that's the bottom line," he said. "We came against a team that really wants to play and played hard and we didn't. Bottom line is we did not play hard enough to win, but it's something we can work on and will continue to work on."

Both teams started the match strong. Neither team led by more than three through the first 40 points, but tied at 20 Centennial won four straight points to take a 24-20 advantage. Atholton answered four set points with a 4-0 run and actually had a set point of its own, but the Eagles closed out strong and won the final three points to take a 1-0 set lead.

The Raiders, however, responded strong to open the second. They won seven of the first eight points and eight of 11, and did it with five kills, two blocks and an ace.

"When we score like that it's great because at times like that we're unstoppable and other times there will be a long run like that but we get caught in a rut," Moy said. "We have to worry about staying out of those ruts."

Centennial trailed the set 11-6 when Pryzbyla left the court, and the offense couldn't get anything going, failing to get a kill until the following set.

The Raiders held a slim lead throughout most of the third set and never trailed. However, the Eagles tied the set at 22, but a foul, a kill by Kelly Simons and an error gave Atholton a 2-1 advantage.

Moy said winning the third set against Centennial's full lineup was "huge."

"It was critical [to bounce back after losing the first set]. If we didn't win that first set it probably would've been over in three because I think our spirits would've been too far down," he said. "We do tend to be that team that starts slow ... but then we would come back. Maybe we're one of those comeback teams."

The fourth set mirrored the third. The Eagles held just one lead – 20-19 – but Zoch had two kills down the stretch to close out another tight set and give Atholton its second win of the season.

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Moy said knocking off Centennial means a lot to his team and their confidence going forward into a tough stretch of the schedule. The Eagles swept the Raiders in their only meeting last year.

"It's one of the key things the girls think about – beating Centennial – because Centennial has that tradition of winning, winning, winning and they've never been a team near the bottom," he said. "They are always near the top. It always feels good when you can beat a team like that. If you can beat a team like that you know you're in the mix."

The Eagles have now lost two in a row after falling to South River on Tuesday. Bossom said his team just needs to get back to work and keep getting better in practice.

"We'll see how they do at practice tomorrow," he said. "That's going to be the key – how they bounce back. It's really their team. They have to figure out what they want to do."

Atholton (2-0 county, 2-1 overall) def. Centennial (1-1, 1-2), 3-1 [26-28, 25-11, 25-22, 25-23]

Other scores:

Mt. Hebron (1-1, 2-1) def. Oakland Mills (0-2, 1-2), 3-0 [25-18, 25-18, 25-16]

Oakland Mills stats: Merina Seldon (2 aces, 12 digs), Rachel Snead (3 kills), Alana Joseph (5 kills, 3 digs), Nya Lightfoot (2 kills, 4 digs)

Wilde Lake (2-0, 3-0) def. Glenelg (1-1, 2-1), 3-0 [25-17, 25-22, 25-22]

Glenelg stats: Kara Crawford (11 kills), Alex Wood (2 aces, 9 digs), Maddie Southern (21 assists)

Howard (2-0, 3-0) def. Hammond (0-2, 1-2), 3-0 [25-16, 25-14, 25-19]

Hammond stats: Imani Reid (2 aces, 1 block), Grace Cheney (3 kills, 3 blocks), Rebekah Grayson (3 kills, 2 digs), Kelly Smith (4 digs), Nailah Melvin (3 kills), Hannah Gorel (8 assists)

River Hill (1-1, 1-2) def. Long Reach (0-2, 1-3), 3-0 [25-19, 25-16, 25-22]

Long Reach stats: Angelina Casserly (6 kills, 2 aces, 1 block, 1 dig), Grace Kelly (17 assists, 2 digs), Rachel Jacavage (12 digs)

Reservoir (2-0, 3-0) def. Marriotts Ridge (0-2, 1-2), 3-2 [26-24, 22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 15-9]

Reservoir stats: Amaka Chukwujekwu (20 kills, 4 aces, 7 blocks, 7 digs), Sydney Allen (11 kills, 4 aces, 12 digs), Elizebeth Harvey (5 aces, 17 digs), Brooke Saunderson (2 aces, 7 digs, 36 assists), Pam Chukwujekwu (4 blocks), Enitan Omolewa (4 blocks)

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