Mount Hebron and Glenelg were expected this season to challenge Centennial's volleyball dynasty.
And sure enough, the Vikings and Gladiators have done just that. They just haven't won.
The unbeaten and No. 2 Eagles defeated visiting and No. 5Glenelg, 10-15, 15-8, 15-13, 15-13, yesterday.
It was similar to Centennial's win four matches ago over No. 4Mount Hebron, in which the Eagles dropped the opening game and won three straight, two of the games by two points.
Mount Hebron and Glenelg will face the Eagles once more before the playoffs begin, but for now, the four-time state Class 3A champions have proved they're still the team to beat in the county.
"I'm very pleased with the way my team is performing," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom, whose team will play Saturday in the Bulldog tournament at North Caroline High School.
"But I know, and they know, they can play better. We need everything to start clicking the entire match."
Glenelg (5-2 overall, 4-2 league) played an inspired first game. The Gladiators, led by Elisa Davidson, never trailed and won on a service winner by Andrea Marks.
As good as Glenelg played in the first game, it played just as poorly at the start of the second game. Centennial (6-0) took off to an 11-0 lead.
"For some reason with this team, when they have success there's a mental lapse," said Glenelg coach Marlene Janis. "I've talked to them about it. It takes three to win."
Said Marks: "We had the momentum and ability to beat them. I think we got frustrated at times when we made mistakes and that brought us down."
But to Glenelg's credit, it rallied in the second game with eight straight points to cut Centennial's lead to 11-8.
The Eagles then ran off four straight for the game.
Glenelg trailed 14-11 in the third game but won two straight points before Centennial called timeout.
With Glenelg's Kara Laws serving for the tie, Centennial's Heather Tolkach hit a winner then watched teammate Meredith Price serve out the game.
Centennial fell behind in the final game, 9-4, before winning six straight points behind the serving of Tolkach.
The Eagles led 14-10 but Glenelg rallied once more and was serving to tie the game at 14. But Katie McCulloch's winner gave the serve back to the Eagles and Tolkach's hard kill shot ended the match.
Once again, Centennial proved tough in the clutch.
"That's something that they have done. They want the game very badly," said Bossom, who credits setter Jen Klimm with making all the right moves.
"When the game is on the line, they find a way to win. It's nothing I do. It's their positive attitude on the floor."
Said Janis: "It seemed like when we were in a scoring position, we couldn't get the point. But overall I was pleased with the way they played. We played more consistent then we have before."