Bonneville-Century Volleyball

Bonneville outside hitter Sade Williams (2) fires off an attack during the 4A volleyball state championship match Saturday in Meridian.

MERIDIAN — Zoe Thiros and Chinma Njoku knew first hand what the expectations were for the Century High School volleyball team.

The two seniors had been freshmen on the Diamondbacks varsity team in 2015 as Century won its sixth-straight 4A state title.

After two years away, Thiros and Njoku have led a new group of Diamondbacks to the top as Century picked up a pair of wins over Bonneville on Saturday to claim their seventh state title since 2010.

“It’s perfect, having lost the last two years it was really hard for me and Chinma to end our season like that,” said Thiros. “We made it a point to come and take it back.”

The D-Backs won all four matches they played in over the weekend, with their final two coming against the two-time defending 5A state champion Bees.

After beating Columbia and Kuna Friday, Century had a 20-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-16 win against Bonneville Saturday morning, then beat the Bees again after they came around in the elimination bracket, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20, 25-21.

“They believed they could,” second-year Century coach Breanne Robinson said about denying the Bees their third straight state title.

After losing to the Diamondbacks in the morning, the Bees came back around, beating Middleton 21-25, 25-23, 23-12, 25-23. The Bees dropped their first set after dropping the final three after Century, but responded by winning the next three.

Having to play extra sets, however, took its toll on the team said Bonneville coach Chantal McMurtrey.

“Every time you have to play another set it takes more out of you,” said McMurtey, who was going for her fifth state title with the Bees. “Those aren’t slouchy games, they’re working their guts out. It definitely wares on you. It’s really important to win that first semifinal game, and we didn’t play well in it.”

In the championship match, Bonneville took a back and forth first set which saw the Diamondbacks erase Bonneville leads of 9-4 and 19-14.

But with the game tied at 24, Century failed to get an attack over net, giving Bonneville a lead and Sade Williams lobbed one over the net that the Diamondbacks were unable to return.

But just like their first match with the Bees, the Diamondbacks were able to win three straight sets after dropping the first one.

“We gathered up together and were like ‘hey it’s no big deal, that was our mistake. We’re way better than that, let’s do our job and just play,’” Njoku said about responding.

The second set was another close one as the two teams were tied at 22 before the Diamondbacks pulled away with three of the next four points.

A Thiros kill put Century on the verge of tying the match and a service error by Bonneville gave the Diamondbacks a win in the set.

After jumping out to an early lead in the third set, Century was able to hold off any attempt by Bonneville to get back into the set.

But in the fourth and deciding set, Century had to come from behind. The Bees led 18-13 before back-to-back kills by Njoku and Thiros sparked a 6-1 run to tie the game at 20.

“We were down, but hey, it’s no problem for the Diamondbacks,” said Thiros. “No matter what we keep coming back, we don’t stop, we’re relentless. Just knowing we were going to win is what brought us together in the end.”

After Williams gave the Bees the lead back with the kill, Century scored six of the final seven points and after an attack by Abby Christensen hit off a Bonneville player and out of play, the Diamondbacks were back on top, after two years away.

“I think last year they were really disappointed and it was the same group of kids, because we were really young,” said Robinson. “They were really disappointed with our state finish last year and I think it kind of fueled them the whole season this year.”

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