For all that Liberty's volleyball team had accomplished this season -- and that's a long list -- the Patriots knew Centennial was still the Southwest Yosemite League monarch.
After Tuesday night at Liberty, though, the throne has been vacated and is being prepped for the Patriots. Liberty swept Centennial 25-20, 25-22, 25-21, and took a two-game lead on the rest of the SWYL with five matches to play.
"It's completely true that they were still the kings," Liberty senior Haylee Roberts said. "Maybe now we're the kings."
Roberts had 10 kills and 9 blocks, and Kiki Robinson was all over the court, recording 15 kills, 10 assists, 11 digs and three aces, as Liberty took an early lead in each game and never gave it up.
"Before every game, I just get in my zone," Robinson said. "We knew we had to come out fighting. Centennial is always tough."
That's what made the result so stunning -- Centennial (12-6, 3-2 SWYL) had been 22-1 in league games since the new SWYL was formed in 2010 until Thursday, when Bakersfield beat the Golden Hawks in five games.
The last time Centennial was swept in a league game? Sept. 25, 2007, against Stockdale, before most of us had seen a single Barack Obama campaign ad.
"We just wanted it any way we could get it," Liberty coach Lean Slayton said. "They're always kind of our archrival. We could never underestimate Centennial High School."
And yet in this one, Liberty (18-5, 5-0) was never really threatened. Centennial scored five points in a row late in Game 1 but couldn't get closer than three points down.
The Hawks got within two points late in Game 2 and three in Game 3, but the Patriots always had the goods to finish them off.
"It wasn't necessarily easy," Roberts said, "but we just came into the game with so much fire. We knew we had to come out pushing as hard as ever."
McKenna Painton had 10 kills and 12 digs for Centennial, and Abby Campbell added 8 kills, 7 digs and 3 blocks, but that normally dynamic duo was mostly held in check by Liberty's two-layered defense.
What the Patriots couldn't accomplish with their block -- besides Roberts' 9, Nikki Leonard, Kourtney Grantz and Tyler Herring each had 4 -- their back-row defense took care of.
"I just feel like everybody did their job well," Slayton said. "At the net, we set the block well, and then we did a good job of not letting any balls hit the floor without being touched."
Maddie Hubbell led the way with 20 digs, but she had plenty of help.
Robinson and Maddie Demarco each had 11 digs, and Halle Harker added 10.
"Our back row was amazing," Roberts said. "I mean, we had a few blocks, but Maddie Hubbell was back there picking up balls I've never seen anyone pick up."
With every other significant foe in the Central Section defeated at least once, Liberty now has to run the SWYL gauntlet one more time. That starts Thursday against Bakersfield.
Liberty did drop a best-of-three match to Clovis West over the weekend in the California Challenge Tournament at Torrey Pines, but the Patriots have a best-of-five win over the Golden Eagles and a victory over Buchanan, which beat Clovis West last week.
"It's been so much fun coaching these girls," Slayton said.
"We do fun, goofy things at practice, and all 16 girls have a purprose. Everybody feels valuable, and that creates good chemistry."