Center Grove coach Chris Due has seen the ripple effect of injuries to key players on the top-five ranked girls volleyball team.
Nine matches ago, the Trojans lost the state’s top player, setter Madison Hammel who is a University of Wisconsin recruit, with an emergency appendectomy and her backup, Jenna Otto who suffered an ankle injury. Those injuries forced Due to move players around the past few weeks.
Ashley Eck moved from libero to setter, Riley McMahen and Jada Beetz shared the libero spot, and Reagan Thomas moved into McMahan’s spot on the right side in the back row.
The Trojans have won seven of nine matches since Hammill’s emergency surgery and are 12-3, including their latest win Thursday at Perry Meridian in three sets. Thomas had eight digs. CG also was led by Eck’s 33 assists, Katie Egenolf with 12 kills and three blocks, and Averie Baker’s 11 digs.
“We’ve been through a lot,” coach Due said. “The girls have responded tremendously. I mean this could have gone either way with our injuries, so it’s great to see them compete through all this. Once we get healthy again, coming back, we really will be strong.”
The No. 5 Trojans have survived rivalry matches against Cathedral, Carmel, Franklin and Perry Meridian but lost to Roncalli in an early-season match.
“We’ve been forced to make a lot of moves that would have thrown a lot of teams off pace,” Due said. “We haven’t been quite the same since our setters went down with injuries, but we have been able to grind it out defensively.”
The Trojans wore down Perry Meridian 25-19, 25-14 and 25-9.
Of course, CG sees the positives of providing more players with playing time.
“We’re going to be hungry towards the end of the regular season,” Due commented. “Everyone is getting better at every position; of course, we still have some areas where we struggle. This (depth) will pay off for us in the playoffs.”
The Falcons were 7-7 after the CG game and have not fared well in rivalry matches, also losing to Southport and Franklin. Coach Jennifer Hawk’s squad had a rematch Monday against the Cards.
Under new coach Davin Testerman, Franklin Central (6-5) has fared well in rivalry matches, defeating Roncalli and Southport. The Flashes meet Center Grove Oct. 7 in an interesting tune-up for the playoffs. FC’s leaders are Brooklyn Schiffli (188 digs), Dayton Thompson (162 digs) and Carly Sobieralski (90 assists).
Southport (10-4) is enjoying its best season under coach Chelsea Brothers Hoffman. The Cardinals downed the rival Falcons but lost earlier in the season to Franklin Central. Southport’s leaders are Lauren Cullison, 216 kills, and Rachel Campbell, 204 digs.
Greenwood stands 9-7 and 2-0 in rivalry matches; yet to play neighboring Southport and Perry Meridian. Beech Grove is 6-8 and Lutheran 4-15. Beech Grove has been led by Arial Keown, 213 digs, and Elysia Hubbard, 63 blocks.
IHSAA sectionals begin Oct. 15.