Senior staff writer
Several Southside teams enter the girls volleyball sectionals with unfinished business from last year’s playoffs.
Sectional champions Center Grove, Perry Meridian and first-time champ Greenwood Christian Academy failed to get beyond their first regional games. Those teams want to go deeper this year but could face some obstacles ... even in sectional action.
“This is the time to put it all together,” said first-year Southport coach Chelsea Hoffman, whose Cardinals upset Bloomington North last week. “We’ve had some good wins late in the season; we seem to be coming together at the right time.”
Most sectionals involving Southside teams will be played Thursday night with semifinals and finals Saturday.
4A at Decatur Central
Favored Roncalli (22-7), seeking its 28th sectional trophy but first since 2014, wants to revive the echoes. The Rebels won their seventh Marion County tourney. Coach Missy Marsh’s Rebels must wait until Saturday at 1 p.m. to play Pike.
The well-balanced upper bracket finds rapidly improving Southport against Ben Davis at 6 p.m. Thursday, followed by Perry Meridian and the Hawks. Southport, a legitimate dark horse, edged Ben Davis 25-22, 28-26 at Southport Fieldhouse. Southport is 8-2 on neutral courts; 3-2 against sectional foes. First-year Perry Meridian coach Jennifer Hawk had rude return to Southside volleyball with 9-19 record, 3-1 against sectional opponents. Falcons have won their last three matches.
Just a hunch, but look for Southport and Roncalli in the title match.
Players to watch (* indicates senior): Roncalli – Elizabeth Eads, 215 kills; Lauren Fey*, 599 assists, 297 digs; Hannah Irman*, 526 digs. Southport – Tiana Wright*, 247 kills; Lauren Cullison, 189 kills; Vanessa Miller, 601 assists. Perry Meridian – Caitie Baird, 437 kills, 261 digs; Megan Bolyard, 412 assists.
4A at Martinsville
Hard to keep Center Grove and Franklin from reaching championship match again.
Sectional begins Thursday with Franklin facing Martinsville at 6 p.m. and Greenwood against Whiteland at 7:30 p.m. in upper bracket. Winners meet at 11 a.m., Saturday, followed by Center Grove-Franklin Central match and title game at 7 p.m.
The Trojans (27-5), ranked No. 6 in the state by MaxPreps.com and Metropolitan Scholastic Conference and Johnson County champions, are aiming for their fifth sectional trophy in six years. CG opened season 20-1, 4-0 against sectional foes, including two wins against Franklin and dominant 3-0 win over Franklin Central. The Flashes (17-12) won their first five matches and are 2-2 against sectional teams. Greenwood (9-21) won only two of its last 13 matches.
Players to watch: Center Grove – Ellen Lemasters*, 400 kills; Emma Jones*, 194 blocks; Devynn Merriman*, 422 digs; MJ Hammill, 746 assists. Franklin Central – Jenna Riley, 416 kills, 53 blocks; Elle Moore*, 396 digs; Dayton Thompson, 300 digs; Carly Sobieralski, 533 assists. Greenwood – Alyssa Stilley, 190 kills; Megan Johns, 262 digs; Maddy Linbach, 470 assists.
3A at Indian Creek
Beech Grove (5-20) ended season by winning two of last four games but face sectional favorite Danville in Thursday’s opener at 6 p.m. Danville dominated the Hornets this season 3-0. Manual (7-10) posted a 5-6 record against Indy schools. The Redskins face Herron, which swept Manual 3-0. Look for Danville from upper bracket to meet host Braves in championship match.
Players to watch: Beech Grove – Katie Giller*, 223 kills, 172 digs; Breanna Small, junior, 83 blocks.
1A at Morristown
The top two teams, defending champ Greenwood Christian and Lutheran, are in opposite brackets, so look for rematch of last year’s championship match.
GCA met Indy Lighthouse South Tuesday in sectional opener, and the winner plays Saturday at 11 a.m. in the semifinals. Lutheran meets Christel House at 6 p.m., Thursday and probably will face dark horse Morristown Saturday at 10 a.m.
GCA (23-8) played a tough schedule to prep for sectional as six of eight losses were to teams above 1A. Senior-laden team could go far but rival Lutheran could stand in way. Saints 13-18 record is deceiving, coming into sectional hot, won five of their last six matches.
Players to watch: GCA – Grace Peters*, 225 kills; Sierra Gilson*, 217 kills; Aubrey Odgers*, 296 digs; Lexi Odgers*, 646 assists. Lutheran – Erin Pasch*, 292 kills; Dara Milivojak, 352 digs; Rylee Morris, 319 digs; Kristen Simons*, 783 assists.
(Note: Statistics from MaxPreps.com; visit www.ihsaa.org for complete sectional pairings.)