Roncalli girls volleyball coach Missy Marsh had nothing but praise for Perry Meridian after the Rebels edged the upset-minded Falcons in a five-set thriller Saturday for the Southport Sectional championship.
Lutheran and Center Grove also claimed sectional trophies Saturday.
Roncalli had defeated the Falcons 3-0 and 3-1 during the season but survived Perry Meridian’s hard-hitting front line and quick back row and won 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11.
Tied 11-11 in the last set, Roncalli took the final four points on kills by Sydney Geibel and Miranda Wilson and misplays on a set and at the net by the Falcons.
“They threw everything at us,” coach Marsh said. “They might be the best blocking team we have seen all year. We tried to prepare for that, but they (PMHS) still brought it to the house.”
Roncalli’s strong play up front by 5-11 junior Wilson, sophomore Sarah Lezon and freshman Faith Burch helped to counter Falcons’ junior GraceAnn Hartman who had 16 kills.
Roncalli led most of the first set until the Falcons led 17-16, but the Rebels outscored PM 9-2 down the stretch. The Falcons came back in the second set to lead 18-11 and a game-winning kill by Hartman, 25-21. Roncalli trailed four times before taking the third set.
Tied 23-23 in the fourth, PM’s Sally Mortenson scored on a tip at the net and Hartman’s kill.
“Going in, I didn’t think it would be this close, Rebel senior Grace Irmer said. “We pushed hard and turned ourselves around when we were behind. We always had energy, no matter what happened.”
Irmer is one of five Roncalli seniors, including Geibel, Elizabeth Origer, Abby Johnson and Molly Roeder. It was Roncalli’s 26th sectional title and third in a row.
Senior Makayla Gompers and junior Molly Shannon, each 19 digs, and junior Claire Morris, 22 assists, led the Falcons. Shannon had a team-high 23 assists.
At Central Christian, 1A Lutheran had won only seven matches while playing many teams in upper classes. The Saints’ strength of schedule paid off with a sectional title Saturday night, easily sweeping Victory College Prep 25-4, 25-9, 25-11. Earlier in a crucial match-up, the determined Saints swept Central Christian 25-20, 25-17, 25-16.
“Our girls did a good job of playing with composure which resulted in the 3-0 sweep,” Lutheran coach Kathy Anderson said. “The small gym was packed for the afternoon (Saturday) game against Central Christian.”
At Franklin, Center Grove swept the host Grizzly Cubs 25-15, 25-17, 25-13 for its 31st sectional championship trophy. Senior setter Madison Hammill led with 34 sets. Up front, Jamie Brown had six kills and Grace Boggess five kills.
Regional action Saturday finds Roncalli against 2018 state runner-up Avon at Greenfield at 10 a.m., Center Grove meeting Columbus East at Bloomington North at noon, and Lutheran facing Bloomfield at Morristown at 10 a.m. Championship matches are at 7 p.m.