Mount Hebron fought off two match points in the fourth game, then dominated the fifth and defeated four-time state champion Centennial, 15-8, 6-15, 13-15, 16-14, 15-5, to win the class 3A East Region title last night at Centennial.
"We wanted this more than anything," said senior Kate Hannas, who, like the other seven seniors on the Vikings' team, had never beaten the Eagles. "It's like a dream. I can't believe it."
The victory for No. 3 Mount Hebron (14-2) ended what has been a difficult week for the Vikings. On Tuesday, coach Henry Dahlan and a player got into a confrontation. A parent witnessed the incident and reported it to school officials.
Dahlan was replaced by JV and assistant coach Daryl Beard, who was the coach Wednesday when Mount Hebron defeated Howard in a region semifinal.
At the suggestion of a player's parent, Mount Hebron players met yesterday with a sports psychiatrist. It apparently made a difference.
"We were so pumped," Hannas said. "She [the psychiatrist] turned it around. We wanted this more than anything. We decided to do this for ourselves."
"I think what happened this week could have been a major distraction but it wasn't because we talked with the psychiatrist," said Sylvia Kaltreider. "She helped us talk about our feelings and she was a good listener. She helped us so much."
Mount Hebron, which lost twice to No. 2 Centennial (18-3) during the regular season, now plays Tuesday in a state semifinal match. But the Vikings were one point away from the end of their season yesterday in the fourth game.
After trailing 10-6 at one point, Centennial rallied and served for the match at 14-12 and 14-13. But Mount Hebron stayed alive and with Kaltreider serving, the Vikings won three straight points, two on service winners, to send the match to a fifth game.
"We came so close twice [in the fourth game] that it was hard on us to push it in the last game," said Centennial's Meredith Price. "We're not used to playing fifth games."
In fact, the Eagles' loss to Glenelg on Oct. 30, Centennial's first loss to a county team since 1990, came in five games. Beard said that match played a part in his team's victory yesterday.
"We beat Glenelg, and when Glenelg beat Centennial, that was a big boost," Beard said. "It showed us Centennial was beatable."
In the fifth game, Hebron led 5-3 then, behind the strong serving of Amanda Smith, won seven straight points for a 12-3 margin. A few minutes later, the match was over.