Southsider Voice correspondent
The difference between this year’s Roncalli volleyball team and last year’s squad was never more evident than Saturday afternoon in the championship match of the Marion County tournament.
Last year the Rebels finished 15-8 but would make matters worse when falling behind a quality opponent. They faltered in the county tourney and in sectional action.
Coach Missy Marsh called it “a confidence issue.”
So far this season the 4A No. 1 Rebels (24-2) have plenty of confidence, experience and tremendous quickness on the back line and up front, too. Winners of the Yorktown and New Castle invitational tourneys, Roncalli added the county tourney crown Saturday, its sixth but first since 2006.
“When we get behind now, we are able to relax,” senior outside hitter Bailey Schnell said. “We believe in ourselves so much now.”
Roncalli trailed Perry Meridian 12-6 before coming back to take a 24-20 lead in the first set. The Falcons closed the score to 24-22 on Abbey Ketchum’s kill and Jenny Stack’s before the Rebels scored the winning point.
Roncalli dominated the second set 25-14 but fought hard to take the third and deciding set 25-23 after trailing 7-1 early and deadlocked at 15-15. A power spike by senior A.J. Lux sparked the Rebels late in the match.
“They do not panic when they are behind,” Marsh said. “They have played together now for a couple of years; they don’t worry about it when they fall behind.”
In the deciding set, Roncalli broke a tie at 15 with a 6-1 run on three kills and two blocks. However, the Falcons fought back by closing to 24-22 on senior Sarah Clem’s booming ninth kill of the match. Roncalli junior Kalyn Schreiber ended the threat and the match with her winning kill.
Schnell led the front line with 15 kills while adding 11 digs. Teammates Samantha Fogg had 29 digs, and Kenzie King had 36 assists and 12 digs.
“We want to win every single game, but this one was for coach,” Schnell said. “This is the first time she’s won county.”
The Rebels’ back row of defensive specialists King, Fogg, Lizzie Britner and Olivia Gillum consistently got to the ball for returns and blocks.
“We have four solid defensive specialists that run our back row,” Marsh said. “If we can get the ball up (front line) then we can continue to fight. Our back line is able to get to the ball.”
Perry Meridian thwarted several attempted kills early by the Rebels and built up leads. Clem had 12 kills and combined with Kristen Mitchell for several blocks.
“I can’t argue about losing to the No. 1 team in the state,” Perry coach Pat Carlson said. “We have played eight straight ranked teams, but our chemistry as a team has never failed. It was that way against Roncalli.”
Roncalli reached the championship game by sweeping Park Tudor, Ben Davis and Lawrence North. Perry Meridian downed North Central, Brebeuf and Speedway. The Falcons overcame Speedway junior and University of Louisville recruit Melanie McHenry’s 26 kills and 25 digs.
Class A No. 4 Lutheran, last year’s champions, was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Lawrence North 3-0 after defeating Southport. Beech Grove and Franklin Central were knocked out in the opening round.
Center Grove regains title
Ranked No. 3 in 4A, Center Grove regained the Johnson County volleyball championship by sweeping Franklin on Thursday at Greenwood.
The Trojans dominated the Grizzly Cubs 25-21, 25-13, 25-15. Taylor Hammill led the Trojans with 39 assists; Ali Line and Madison Smeathers nailed 16 and 13 kills, respectively.
Center Grove reached the finals by dominating Edinburgh 25-9, 25-8, 25-10. Franklin advanced after defeating Greenwood 25-15, 25-20, 25-16.
The Trojans have won 17 of the 19 county tourneys, falling to Franklin in 2012 and ’13.
Greenwood took third place in a thriller against Edinburgh 19-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-22, 15-8. Junior Olivia Stilley had 14 kills and senior Samantha Short 10 kills. The Woodmen, led by freshman setter Hannah Anderson’s 25 assists, reached the semis by defeating Indian Creek 25-18, 25-9, 25-13.