No. 1 Centennial cleared arguably its final hurdle to the Howard County league crown, sweeping No. 9 Mount Hebron, 25-20, 25-20 and 25-11, Thursday evening in Ellicott City.
Senior Samatha Brostrom had 17 kills and seven digs for Centennial, and Liz Brown added eight kills and 11 digs. Tinuke Ibitola had nine kills to lead Mount Hebron (8-2 overall, 7-1 Howard).
Barring a letdown in its final six league matches, Centennial (9-1, 8-0 Howard) will represent Howard County at next month’s District V championship game at Annapolis against the Anne Arundel County league champ. The Eagles are defending District V champs.
They’re again on the verge thanks to another big-game performance, pulling away in game two before rolling through to the sweep. Centennial coach Larry Schofield was pleased with his team’s intensity after a less than inspire showing in the finals of the Gator Invitational last weekend.
“Serving was again an issue, but they made up for it with a good set or good pass,” said Centennial coach Larry Schofield. “We had few attack errors.”
“We really needed to take care of the ball on our side and everything else would take care of itself,” said Brown, who’s headed to William & Mary. “We were focused on perfecting each and every skill.”
The Eagles were far from perfect as serving continues to be their Achilles. Schofield said the Eagles put forth a solid defensive effort on Mount Hebron’s hitting duo of Ibitola and Holly Hynson.
“We tried to take the block away and put the defense around them,” said Schofield. “They’re still going to get their kills.”
A kill by Ibitola brought the Vikings within 9-6 in the second game, but Centennial extended the advantage to 17-11 after kill by Jaimie Fabling and Brostrom. The Eagles committed four straight errors allowing Mount Hebron back to within two, but four straight points featuring a kill each by Fabling, Brostrom and Brown gave full advantage back to Centennial.
Maddy Birus serve landed out, ending game two for the Vikings. It got worse for the hosts who fell into a 12-4 hole in the game three. Mount Hebron coach Mike Moynihan said serving aided his team’s downfall.
“We didn’t serve well. They passed everything where they needed to be, and we couldn’t do that today,” said Moynihan, whose team’s other loss came against No. 5 Fallston. “When we did that, they couldn’t stop our offense. But when you’re setting from behind the attack line, you’re not going to do much.”
Mount Hebron look to rebound Tuesday against Reservoir, while Centennial has Glenelg followed with a non-league match with defending Class 4A state champ Broadneck in Ellicott City. The Eagles have Long Reach, Marriotts Ridge, Oakland Mills and Hammond to finish the regular season.
“We went into this game think it was counties [championship game] even though it doesn’t exist anymore,” said Brostrom. “We still have games we have to push for, but we’re pretty much in the drivers’ seat.”
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