No. 1 Centennial rolls to title

Centennial coach Bill Shook has said time and again that Howard County volleyball is emerging as the best in the state.

During the past five years, the county has produced six state champions in different regions. The No. 1 Eagles, with a 15-0, 15-1, 15-0 defeat of visiting Northwestern in the Class 3A, Region III finals yesterday, are heading for that list.


When Centennial plays in the state tournament's opening round next Wednesday at Charles Community College, Shook will begin seeking his third state title in a nine-year reign. His Eagles certainly sent notice that he is on target, disposing of two Baltimore City schools -- Carver and Northwestern -- 90-1 in regionals. Carver fell in 25 minutes and Northwestern in 35.

Centennial also will be looking to defend its 1991 championship.


"We're going to win," said senior hitter/middle Jen Bartel. "This is the strongest team we've had, and we've stuck together the whole season. Last year, we weren't too sure about how far we'd go."

Baltimore City schools Carver and Northwestern are part of a new alignment with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Therefore, 1992 was their first visit to Centennial's volleyball factory. Northwestern coach Lillian Brown said: "We saw a lot that's going to help us next year."

The Eagles jumped to 11-0, 8-0 and 7-0 leads in the first three games before losing service. Centennial's hitting and service percentages were both 96.4, and the team made 22 kills and 21 aces. Northwestern served just 10 times.

The Eagles' height was too much for the Wildcats. Centennial 6-footer Shannon Saltzman (eight setting assists, one kill), 5-7 Sandy Palasek (five kills) and 5-7 Sezin Omer (five kills) led the way. All seniors playing their final game at home, they also had 15 aces. Northwestern's tallest player was 5-4 1/2 .

With little doubt about the outcome, Shook shuffled his starters in the second game. He repositioned Saltzman and senior Laura Taneyhill to setting, Omer and junior Carrie Shadrick to receiving, and Bartel and Palasek to hitting.