Centennial volleyball beats River Hill volleyball in three sets on September 8, 2016.
The last time River Hill and Centennial squared off on the volleyball court, tears welled in the eyes of the Eagles players, knowing their season was over.
The Hawks players, meanwhile, had tears of joy as they advanced to the 3A East regional final in their home gym.
On Thursday, in the season opener for both squads, Centennial got some revenge against a new-look River Hill team by sweeping the match, 25-14, 25-22, 25-18.
Eagles coach Michael Bossom said revenge wasn't on their mind, though. Simply getting on the court for a home match was enough to fire up his players.
"It could've been anybody on the other side at this point," he said. "After starting on Aug. 10 and being here five days a week for a month, just to get out here and play in front of a crowd – they were so excited, a little nervous. ... But they know it's River Hill and they know River Hill knocked us out last year. It's not a revenge thing because it's not the same situation."
Senior Camryn Allen, a Towson University commit who spent last season as an outside hitter out of necessity, played her first high school game in two years at libero. She was a first-team all-county player at the position as a sophomore, and on Thursday she was as comfortable – and dominant – as wearing a white jersey with pink numbers.
Bossom said the plan is for her to stay at libero, though he wouldn't rule out an appearance at outside hitter when the time calls for it.
"Last year we didn't have a lot of outside [hitters]," Bossom said of Allen, who finished with 13 digs. "But this year the players we're playing at outside are a year older and they're a year better, and that's her natural position. She's very comfortable back there and she's able to calm everybody else down. We were able to do some really fast tempo stuff tonight because of her back there."
Hawks coach Lynn Paynter had high praise for Allen and junior setter Emily Pryzblya, who had all 18 of Centennial's assists, saying, "Between Emily and Camryn, they could run the team themselves. They've got to be two of the top players in the county. Those two are just dominant. Camryn was just everywhere."
River Hill, which won the county title with a 12-1 record and the region in a 15-2 campaign in 2015, is starting an entirely new lineup this fall. Paynter said she knows her team may take some lumps early, but ultimately she expects her group to jell and improve throughout the year.
"We're young inexperienced. I have five seniors who are very new to the court," she said. "Cohesively, I thought they didn't get down on themselves and they didn't get down on each other, and I thought that was huge. To me that's a big step because if we can take a loss and a licking like we did on some points and still look at each other excited when you win a point, I think that's a big step for us in winning games."
The teams were tied at 7 in the first set before the Eagles found their groove and won the next five points, which included two aces from Pryzblya.
The Hawks rebounded well in the second, though, despite trailing 15-9. They scored seven of the next nine points to cut Centennial's lead to one, 17-16, and eventually tied the set at 19. Gabby Fairley, who led the Eagles with six kills, helped close out the stanza with a kill and an ace, while River Hill failed to string together back-to-back points.
Centennial jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third set, and eventually blew it open by winning eight of 11 points to take a 17-11 advantage. Pryzblya ended the match with her third kill of the match and the Eagles' 10th in the third set.
"Getting them to calm down in games one and two needed a little bit of work, and then they settled down at the beginning of game three," Bossom said.