A funny thing happened on the way to the much-anticipated rematch between Hagerstown and Northeastern for the Wayne County volleyball championship on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Robert E. Clark gymnasium. Both favorites lost in their opening round matches. Centerville knocked off Northeastern 3-2. Lincoln defeated Hagerstown 3-2. It would be inaccurate to call either win an upset. There is little difference in the skill of any of the four teams.

Match one: Centerville 3, Northeastern 2

In their regular season match Northeastern swept the Lady Bulldogs; their match Saturday was a different story. The Knights won the first set 25-18 and seemed to be in complete control. Centerville broke the pattern by winning the next two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-21. The Knights, faced with elimination, dug in and won the fourth set 25-15 to force a fifth and deciding set. The Bulldogs came out swinging. Centerville never allowed the Knights to gain traction. With Brooklyn O’Neil and Chloe Goodman leading the charge, the Bulldogs won the set 15-6 and the match 3-2. 

Match two: Lincoln 3, Hagerstown 2

Like the first semifinal match, Hagerstown swept Lincoln recently in their regular season match. That only served to motivate the Lady Eagles on Saturday. The Lady Eagles stunned the Lady Tigers by winning the first two sets by identical scores of 25-20. Mia Cupp, who has been out of the Lincoln lineup for a few weeks with injury, combined forces with Paige Lunsford to keep Hagerstown on their heels. The Tigers, who had won the title the last eight years in a row, dug down and fought back to win the next two sets 25-21 and 25-19 to force a fifth set. Neither team could maintain a lead in the final set before Lincoln finally pulled away to win 15-13.  

Championship match: Centerville 3, Lincoln 1

Centerville and Lincoln, the only teams in the field with losing records, came to the title game under different circumstances. The Eagles, coming off a grueling five-set match, went right back on the court for the championship match. Centerville had a few hours of rest. The Bulldogs moved to take a quick advantage. Centerville won the first set 25-12 and the second set 25-18. Lincoln refused to go down without a fight, taking the third set 25-21. Centerville came back to win the fourth set 25-18 to win the match 3-1. The Bulldogs carried the traveling trophy back to Centerville.

The Lady Bulldogs hold the traveling trophy aloft. The Bucket is headed to Centerville. Photos by DAJO Photos

First-year Centerville head coach James Basler said his team just continues to improve. “The girls are starting to believe in what I am trying to teach them and how I expect them to play for every point in every match,” Basler said. “When they do that, we are going to be a hard team to beat. I am super excited about our future, and I am happy for the girls today. We played smart volleyball all day and it paid off.”  

Lincoln head coach Greg Seidner was pleased with his team’s play. “We played well all day,” Seidner said. “Congratulations to Centerville. The luck of the draw gave them more rest, but we are not making excuses. My girls played their hearts out. I could not ask any more. This was a day of surprises.”

All-tournament team as selected by the Western Wayne News

  • Mia Cupp, Lincoln
  • Raleigh Doerstler, Hagerstown
  • Chloe Goodman, Centerville – Most valuable player
  • Kasiti Ferriell, Hagerstown  
  • Paige Lunsford, Lincoln
  • Emma Neely, Northeastern
  • Lilly Null, Northeastern
  • Brooklyn O’Neil, Centervllle
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A version of this article appeared in the October 4 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.