Last night, top-ranked Centennial dimmed Wilde Lake's hope for the Howard County volleyball title - figuratively and literally.
The top-ranked and host Eagles settled down after a rough start and cruised to relatively easy wins in the final two games to defeat the 11th-ranked Wildecats, 26-24, 25-8, 25-19, and capture the Howard County championship. The match was interrupted every seven minutes by short power outages that often affected play.
"It was definitely a distraction," Eagles senior Ashley Fan, who had eight digs, said of the power problems. "We didn't start out very well, and that only added to it. Once we calmed down, we were all right and we did what we had practiced."
The Wildecats - who lost to Centennial (15-0) twice in the regular season - came out hot early, building a 15-12 lead against an Eagles team that has dropped only one game to a Howard County opponent this season. Centennial rallied to tie the score at 21 on a block by Samantha Brostrom and then used three kills and a tip over the net by Brostrom to take a 24-21 lead.
After Wilde Lake (11-4) tied the score at 24 on an ace by Jackie Li, the Eagles rallied for the next two points and a 26-24 win.
Centennial took an 8-1 lead in the second game and coasted to a 25-8 win. In the third game, Wilde Lake cut a large Centennial lead to 16-12 before the Eagles went on a 9-7 run to record a 25-19 win and take the match.
"We knew they would come out strong," said Brostrom, a sophomore who had 14 kills. "We missed a lot of serves in the first game, and that and the other distractions didn't help. It took us awhile to relax and play our game."
The teams, which play in the Class 3A East region, move on to the state playoffs, where they will likely meet again if the seeds hold.
"This wasn't the team that played here last Thursday," Wilde Lake coach Caitlin Geoghan said of her team. "I think our defense broke down in the second game. Centennial is a good team, and they made adjustments and exploited our weaknesses. I am very proud of my team, and I have a feeling we'll see them again."