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La Plata volleyball team falls to Centennial in 3A state semifinals
By AJ MASON
COLLEGE PARK The La Plata volleyball team had another great journey this season en route to its third straight Class 3A South Region championship.
However, for the third straight campaign, the Warriors came up short of reaching its first-ever state final.
After falling in five games to River Hill of Howard County a year ago, the Warriors took on Centennial, another state power from Howard County, in Wednesday night’s Class 3A state semifinals at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum.
Behind a powerful attack, the 3A East Region champion Eagles rolled to a three-game sweep over the Warriors by scores of 25-13, 25-14 and 25-10 victory to improve to a perfect 18-0 overall on the season.
With the victory, Centennial advanced to its second state final in three years and will take on North Hagerstown of Washington County tonight where it will be looking to claim the program’s 15th state championship. It currently holds a state-record 14 championships.
North Hagerstown swept Bel Air of Harford County in Wednesday night’s other 3A state semifinal.
In 2010, the Eagles were upset by Towson of Baltimore County in five games for the state final. It was the same Towson squad that swept the Warriors in the state semifinals.
“We’re bringing the tradition back to Centennial,” said Centennial senior Trisha Mockapetris, who finished tied with sophomore teammate Meghan Kelley with a match-high nine kills. “We just have to start it again. We took a little break, a couple years for rebuilding, but now it’s time for us to full-force take lead and head into the future with this. We’re back to avenge our state finals loss [in 2010].”
La Plata (15-3) jumped out to 4-2 and 7-6 leads in Game 1, but the Eagles started to take over and the Warriors did not have a lead again until the beginning of Game 3.
“We knew coming in that Centennial was a great team,” said La Plata head coach Catherine Lavery, who completed her fifth season with the loss. “They had wonderful outside hitters. Most of those girls I’ve seen play during club, they are very talented. I’m proud of my girls, it’s great we made it back to states. Centennial just outplayed us tonight.”
Throughout the first two games, the Eagles showed their dominance, scoring 10 points on kills in Game 1 and 15 kills in Game 2 to help secure the eventual sweep.
Adding to Mockapetris and Kelley’s contributions were middle hitter Jessie Link (6 kills) and Kristen Ritchie (5 kills). Senior setter Lexi Torreullas-White finished with a match-high 20 assists.
On defense, Centennial, which had a 39-34 dig advantage, yielded just 16 La Plata kills and held all but one Warrior to three kills or fewer.
“The chemistry has really taken over and we have very good senior leadership,” Centennial head coach Larry Schofield said. “We had early jitters and La Plata came out strong, but as the match went on we got in a groove.”
Warriors outside hitter Faith Laidley, who had a match-best 19 kills in the 3A South Region final last week, finished with six kills on Wednesday, while sophomore Claudia Hart had three.
“Last year we lost our big hitters, so it was very exciting with the season we had,” Laidley said. “This was a good experience for us, we have a young team. If we work hard, we can get back to states again next year.”
When asked if fatigue was a big factor in Game 3, Lavery mentioned otherwise.
“I just think they lost a little bit of confidence and got a little nervous and just fell apart. When you’re not mentally in the game, you just can’t pass,” she said. “We started to come through and I saw my team out there, but it didn’t last.”
Senior setter Heidi Rottman had five digs and 14 assists for La Plata, while Warriors senior libero Meghan Griffiths was tied for the match-high with Mockapetris in digs with eight. Junior Emily Subocz collected seven digs for the Warriors.
“This season was very special,” said La Plata junior Maggie Lavery, who only had two kills in the match, but had four digs. “This was a tough game tonight, but we worked very hard this season.”
Coach Lavery, who will see four seniors leave from this team due to graduation, will have 11 returning players on the roster next season.