Senior staff writer
Roncalli senior Elizabeth Eads’ high-energy start in two matches Saturday launched the Rebels to their second consecutive Marion County volleyball championship at Lawrence North. The 5-10 middle blocker opened matches against Perry Meridian in the semifinal and Brebeuf Jesuit in the title match with the Rebels’ first kills. She registered 25 kills and six blocks for the day. Classmate/outside hitter Grace Hegwood also dominated up front with 15 kills against the Falcons and 14 against Brebeuf. The rangy and agile duo helped No. 20 Roncalli defeat the rival Falcons 25-17, 25-21, 25-17 and No. 19 Brebeuf 25-17, 28-26, 25-19 for the championship.
“I like to get really excited, play with a big smile and with high energy,” Eads said. “We play together as a team, not as individuals; everyone is involved, plays with confidence and focuses on the game.”
Each win for the Rebels represented a total team effort Saturday for the school’s eighth sectional title. Junior setter Elizabeth Origer had 82 assists and freshman libero Emma Halter had 56 digs for the day.
Senior Betsy Crosley had seven kills against Brebeuf with three consecutive kills midway in the third set. Senior Miranda Wilson kept up the intensity of the Rebels’ play at the net. Roncalli’s back row featured Halter, Taylor Kehoe, Grace Irmer and Molly Roeder. Against Perry Meridian, the Rebels jumped to a 5-1 lead and never trailed in the first set.
The second set was tied six times, the last time at 19 before Roncalli’s four-point run. Falcons senior Caitie Baird dominated the third set, scoring seven of the first 13 points. The Falcons enjoyed a 13-9 lead, but Roncalli (22-4) regained its aggressiveness and went up 18-14.
“We made mistakes at key times that cost us,” Perry Meridian coach Jennifer Gandolph Hawk said. “We fought and had a four-point lead but did not show the maturity to maintain it. We made some great plays; just didn’t have enough great plays.”
Baird, a member of the USA’s U18 gold medal team, had 14 kills.
“We have good chemistry,” Roncalli coach Missy Marsh said. “There is no drama with these girls; they are intelligent, and we can work on a good game plan. They play hard and they want to win.”
Sectional pairings find Roncalli playing Pike and Perry Meridian facing Decatur Central at Ben Davis Tuesday and Southport in action Oct. 11 in 4A; Franklin Central meets Franklin Tuesday with the winner facing Greenwood Oct. 11 plus No. 7 Center Grove against the Martinsville-Whiteland winner; in 3A at Tri-West, Manual meets Herron and Beech Grove battles Tri-West Tuesday with the winners playing again Oct. 11; and Class A at Morristown, Greenwood Christian meets 2A No. 2 Central Christian Tuesday with Lutheran playing the winner. Semifinal and championship games are Oct. 13 (for game times, visit: www.ihsaa.org).