Southsider Voice correspondent
Roncalli students stormed the court and mobbed the 4A No. 2-ranked Rebels volleyball squad Oct. 23 at the Franklin High School gymnasium.
The scene was similar to many sectional championship celebrations, except this scene took place after the Rebels’ nail-biting semifinal win against No. 3 Center Grove.
After splitting with the Trojans during the regular season, Roncalli won the all-everything sectional showdown – 25-21, 25-22, 26-24 – with power and quickness.
“This was not the final,” coach Missy Marsh told her team. “You’re eye has to be on the big prize.”
Forty hours later, the Rebels claimed their 25th sectional championship by defeating the Grizzly Cubs 25-20, 25-18, 25-20.
Roncalli was one of three Southside teams to hoist championship trophies.
Perry Meridian, No. 10 in 4A, defeated upset-minded Decatur Central 25-11, 25-18, 25-15 for the Sectional 11 title at Pike. The Falcons reached the final game by defeating Ben Davis 25-16, 25-20, 25-10.
Lutheran, No. 4 in Class A, dominated Southwestern 25-6, 25-16, 25-13 at home for the Sectional 59 crown. The Saints swept upstart Greenwood Christian Academy 25-18, 25-17, 25-12 in the semifinals.
In regional action Tuesday (results unavailable at press time), Roncalli traveled to Columbus East; Perry Meridian challenged No. 4 Avon on the road, and Lutheran journeyed to Hauser. The 4A winners advance to the Seymour Semistate on Saturday at 11 a.m., with Lutheran or Hauser at the Class A Loogootee Semistate at 11 a.m. to face Tindley or Bloomfield. Finals are at 7 p.m., with winners going to the state finals Nov. 8 at Worthen Arena in Muncie.
Roncalli and Center Grove lived up to their lofty rankings.
The Rebels swept the match after trailing 24-21 in the third set. The Trojans had three bad hits and a double hit before Roncalli won the match on Kailyn Schreiber’s kill.
Roncalli went on 3-0 runs six times, making the final 5-0 spurt even more improbable in the intense duel. The Rebels held the largest lead of the match – 17-10 – in the first set. The Trojans led 15 different times.
“They beat us late in the regular season … we didn’t make it a big deal,” Marsh said. “We wanted to just play ball; we wanted to stay calm and relaxed. And that goes back to our seniors. We stayed relaxed under pressure. I don’t know how they do it; they just want to win.”
Leaders for Roncalli were senior Bailey Schnell, 16 kills; junior McKenna Lundy, 10 kills; senior transfer A.J. Lux, seven blocks, including four in the second set; and senior Kenzie King, 40 assists.
CG’s front line duo of 6-4 junior Madison Smeathers and 6-2 senior Ali Line combined for 28 kills.
Coach Dana Daprile’s Trojans finished 29-4 but faced Roncalli, Chatard and No. 1 Cathedral to end the regular season.
Lutheran waltzed through its sectional by sweeping three opponents.
“Southwestern actually matched up with us more in our favor,” Lutheran coach Kathy Anderson said. “We served a lot better than we did in the morning, and that opened things up for us against Southwestern.”
The Saints were led by junior middle hitters Whitney Hoover, 15 kills, five blocks; and Alex Engler, nine kills; and sophomore libero Elise Sombke, 25 digs.
“Our team is doing a great job of opening up different spots for Whitney,” Anderson said. “Elise is very quick, and she reads the other hitters very well.”
Falcons benefit from senior leadership
Led by seven seniors who serve as captains, Perry Meridian ran its record to 25-8 with the Pike Sectional title.
“We’ve been doing everything all year by committee,” coach Patrick Carlson said. “We don’t have a superstar, but we are very balanced. Our top six or seven girls played well.”
The Falcons seemed tense against Ben Davis in the first game Saturday but broke loose from a 10-10 deadlock to win 25-16.
Against underdog Decatur Central, the Falcons pulled away from a 2-2 to a 19-2 lead with senior Abbey Ketchem serving. The Falcons won 25-15.
“She was just ruthless with her serving zones,” Carlson said.
Ketchem and classmates Sarah Clem and Kristen Mitchell lead Falcons in kills. Senior Jenny Strack has more than 500 digs.
Franklin Central reached the semifinals of the Franklin Sectional before falling to Franklin 25-15, 25-19, 25-19.
The Flashes downed Greenwood in the opener 25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 25-19. They finished the first set on a 9-3 run and closed the fourth set and match with a 7-1 run. Greenwood junior Olivia Stilley had 18 kills and four blocks.
Beech Grove, Southport and Manual were defeated in sectional openers.