Senior staff writer
Center Grove middle hitter Madison Smeathers and Taylor Hammill accomplished one of their missions by leading the Trojans to Saturday’s 4A Sectional 14 volleyball championship.
The host Trojans defeated Franklin 26-24, 25-20, 25-13 for the third time this season.
The Trojans fell to Roncalli in the title match last season and have vowed to march to the state finals this year.
Smeathers, an Ohio State University recruit, had 18 kills in three sets; Hammill, an Auburn recruit, recorded 30 assists. The versatile Smeathers, younger sister of former Indiana All-Star basketball player Andy Smeathers, also had seven digs and one assist.
“We’re not done; we’re not done,” Smeathers said.
The 4A No. 4 Trojans reached the finals by dominating Martinsville; No. 12 Franklin advanced by sweeping Greenwood.
Center Grove was also victorious in regional action Tuesday against No. 10 Columbus East in a sweep. With the win Center Grove will play Avon Saturday who defeated Perry Meridian in five sets Tuesday.
Franklin dropped the first set of the sectional match after being tied 24-24 with a net violation and an attempted kill that went out of bounds. CG’s last five points in the second set came on two kills by Smeathers and one each by sophomores Emma Jones and Ellen LeMasters and senior Tonia Rumble.
“This was a great team win,” Trojans coach Dana Matis said. “We know we can’t overlook any team. We knew if we wanted our goal to continue on, then we have to take care of business.”
Smeathers and Hammill are among five seniors. The senior duo plays together intuitively. They first played as teammates in seventh grade and returned together again as freshmen.
“We know each other well on and off the court,” Smeathers said, “but that really helps us play better together. If I ever need a point, I can get the ball to her and she will put it down for a point every time.”
Smeathers and Hammill are high-level athletes who play other sports (Hammill softball and Smeathers tennis).
Matis contends that intense competition does not faze them. “They want the ball to be in their hands when the game is on the line. And that has been very cool to see since they were freshmen.”
Hammill has 899 assists (79.9 percent of the team total), and Smeathers has 464 kills.