The Centennial High School girls volleyball team won its third consecutive City League championship, defeating host Eastmoor Academy 25-7, 13-25, 25-16, 25-19 on Oct. 17.

The Centennial High School girls volleyball team won its third consecutive City League championship, defeating host Eastmoor Academy 25-7, 13-25, 25-16, 25-19 on Oct. 17.

The Stars wore headbands that read "One Team" in support of coach Brenden Pence, who was suspended for the match and was not allowed to be in attendance. His assistant and fiancée, Logan Holthaus, coached the match.

Through a fan's cellphone using FaceTime, Pence said he watched the third game and greeted some players on the phone.

"I presented the girls with those (headbands) this morning and gave them a pep talk before they left for Eastmoor," Pence told in a phone interview after the match. "I wanted them to be on the same page and to play as a program because it's been a difficult week."

Pence said he was suspended by Centennial principal Stephanie Porta for his part in a scheduling conflict that produced subsequent scheduling problems for Whetstone and Northland.

Vincent Clarno, director of student activities for the City League, refused to comment about the events over the past week, which began at the Division I district tournament draw Oct. 11.

Pence submitted paperwork that listed the Stars' record as 13-9 at the time of the draw. The OHSAA allows teams to play only 22 regular-season matches. If a team plays more, it is not eligible to play in the postseason.

After going through the schedule match-by-match, it was determined Centennial's record was 13-8 ahead of its regular-season finale Oct. 13 against visiting Whetstone. Having clinched the City-North Division title, the Stars were obligated to play in the City championship match, which would give them a 23rd regular-season contest.

On Oct. 12, league officials asked Whetstone to make the match against Centennial a scrimmage. However, Whetstone already had used its OHSAA-allotted five scrimmages.

Northland coach J. Sanchez said he was approached Oct. 13 by athletics director Mario Bowles, who had been informed by City officials that the Vikings, as City-North runners-up, would play in the championship match.

"I told my girls (right away) because many of them work and would have to make arrangements to play on (Oct. 17)," Sanchez said. "Their parents also had to change plans."

Pence informed the morning of Oct. 13 that he had chosen to have the Stars play Whetstone and compete in the City championship match, thereby making his team ineligible for the district tournament. He was going to inform his players of the decision after the Whetstone match that night.

Meanwhile, Whetstone traveled to Centennial to play Oct. 13 and during the j.v. match, Braves varsity coach Errole Rembert was told there would be no varsity match and that Centennial also wasn't forfeiting, which would count on its record.

Pence had been approached by a league official and told not to play the varsity match and that the issue had been resolved. League officials chose to stipulate the Whetstone-Centennial match as a "drop match."

"City schools always schedule a drop match, which is a non-league match that closes the regular season," Rembert said. "You tell the opponent that if you make the City championship match, you have to cancel the non-league match. It's never been used for another City team and it's just an excuse to allow Centennial to play in both the championship and the district tournament, even though they broke the rules."

Rembert said his team was harassed when leaving the Centennial gym Oct. 13 because Centennial fans thought Whetstone was refusing to play.

"We traveled there for nothing and then we got harassed," he said. "I'm not blaming that on Brenden or anyone at Centennial. They didn't know what was happening. It was just an entire mess from the City offices and there are a lot of hurt feelings right now."

Pence is expected to coach Centennial in the district tournament. The Stars are seeded 27th of 47 teams and will play a first-round match at 19th-seeded Hilliard Darby on Tuesday, Oct. 20.