The only time No. 2 Centennial lost its first game was in its only loss this season. When the Eagles were confronted with the same situation yesterday, they did not turn in a repeat performance.
Regaining its composure in the second game, Centennial defeated No. 7 Mount Hebron, 8-15, 15-5, 15-2, 15-11, in the Class 3A East final at Centennial. The Eagles (21-1), two-time defending 3A state champions, advance to the state semifinals Wednesday at Charles Community College.
It was the first postseason loss since 1989 for Mount Hebron (10-6), the three-time defending Class 2A state champ, which was in its first year in Class 3A.
The Vikings, who had won only one of seven games in their two previous defeats to Centennial, took the first game as they scored eight of the final nine points.
Lia Kaltreider, whose block was the game-winner, broke open a 6-5 game with three points off her serving.
"In the first game, everything went right," said Kaltreider, who had six kills. "It was the best game we played against them all year."
"I was kind of surprised," Centennial 6-foot-1 junior Krisha Svehla said. "We used yesterday for mental preparation for this game, but I didn't think they would play like they did."
The Eagles, who lost their only match of the year to No. 1 Severna Park in the North Caroline Tournament, quickly rebounded.
Svehla recorded three kills during a four-serve stretch, as the Eagles opened a 4-2 lead in the second game. When the Vikings scored only two points on seven serves, Centennial cruised and scored the game's final four points off serves by senior Carrie Snadrick to take the second game, 15-5.
"This was our toughest game we've played. [Mount Hebron] played better than Severna Park," Centennial head coach Bill Shook said. "They came out serving tough and very aggressive. When they became less aggressive in the second game, we knew we could handle them.
"There might not be a better match again this year. This could have been for the state championship."
The Eagles displayed their dominating style of play in the third game. With a 75-point serving percentage that game, Centennial dispensed of Mount Hebron, 15-2.
Carlyn Cangiano, a 6-foot senior, served the game out with two aces. She led the Eagles with match highs of 14 kills and five aces.
"We got fired up after the first game. We really had nothing to lose after that," Cangiano said. "We have putting all that anger from the Severna Park loss into every game. We'll keep using that till we win our third straight [state] title."
Kaltreider said: "When we always start strong, we lose something in the second game. We got some of it back in the fourth game, but it was just too late."