Down two games to one, Centennial volleyball coach Mike Bossom left most of his starters on the bench to start the fourth game last night against visiting River Hill.
"I wanted to give River Hill something different to see," said Bossom, who put two freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and one senior on the floor. "We felt confident when that team was on the floor that we could still win."
And that's what happened.
The top-ranked Eagles, rejuvenated by the solid performance of their bench, rallied to beat the third-ranked Hawks, 15-7, 9-15, 7-15, 15-10, 15-6, in a match that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours.
Sophomore Molly Reitz, the Eagles' second setter, served to open the fourth game. Senior Jill Rudnicki earned Centennial's first point on a kill shot, and Reitz had back-to-back aces as the Eagles took a 3-0 advantage they never lost.
Centennial took leads of 9-1 and 10-5 in the fourth game before River Hill rallied to make the score 10-9. The Hawks (4-1 overall and league) had three chances to tie the score before Centennial (5-1 overall, 5-0 league) won four points behind the serving of Julija Sajauskas.
The Eagles won the game on a kill shot by Katie Cothran.
Bossom again mixed his lineup to start the fifth game, and moved 6-foot Lindsay Feller from middle to outside. The Eagles didn't miss a beat. They took a 5-0 lead and increased it to 10-2. Senior Carolyn Dougherty, who earned two side-outs for the Eagles near the end of the game, also won her team's final two points.
Dougherty admitted she was "a little surprised" not to start the fourth game, but credited the bench for making the difference.
"It's really hard to come of the bench and do that, especially with that kind of pressure," Dougherty said. "They did well. They really deserved to be out there."
Beside Reitz and Rudnicki, Erika Swan, Caroline Worthington, Julia Manzone and Feller started the fourth game for the Eagles.
River Hill outside hitter Krystal Jacobson, who had 16 kills, said Centennial's new lineup caused some problems. "It kind of threw us off," she said, "but we should have been able to handle it."
Jacobson said her team was mentally tired at the end. "We need to learn to pull ourselves together in sticky situations," she said.
Feller had 10 of her team-high 17 kills in the last two games, and Dougherty had seven of her 15 kills in the final game.