By Al Stilley Senior
Southside volleyball features four state-ranked teams, three new head coaches and a wealth of talent. Powerhouse Center Grove enjoyed a 4A No. 5 ranking in the preseason coaches poll with Roncalli 10th and, in Class A, Lutheran eighth and Greenwood Christian Academy 21st.
Most Southside teams should be vastly improved from last season with a blend of young and exciting players and seasoned seniors. New coaches include former Franklin coach Chris Due at Center Grove, Martin Sam at Manual and former small college coach Kelsey Souders at Greenwood Christian Academy.
Team USA 18 and under gold medal team front-liner 6-2 Caitie Baird of Perry Meridian leads the area’s top players, which include junior setter MJ Hammill at Center Grove, sophomore setter Carly Sobieralski and outside hitter Jenna Riley at Franklin Central, middle hitters Alyssa Stilley and Joy Maze at Greenwood, outside hitter Grace Hegwood at Roncalli, defensive specialist Nicole Viduarre at Southport, middle hitters Bre Small and Tyonna Baxter at Beech Grove, sophomore outside hitter Izzy Reed at Greenwood Christian and senior hitter Rylee Morris and soph defensive specialist Dara Milivojak at Lutheran.
Center Grove opened by defeating 3A No. 1 New Castle 3-1 on Hammill’s 31 assists, 12 kills by Anna Line and 10 by Calista Stafford. The Trojans later fell to defending 4A state champ Avon 3-0 but downed Martinsville and Brownsburg. In other early season matches: Roncalli swept Franklin Central 3-0 with the Flashes recovering to defeat Heritage Christian and Warren Central; Greenwood downed Greenwood Christian and Beech Grove 3-1 and went 2-2 in the Plainfield Invitational; Lutheran defeated Beech Grove 3-0; Franklin edged Perry Meridian; and Southport went 2-1 in its invitational.
Center Grove looking for another deep postseason run
Franklin Central moves to a tough conference
Perry Meridian is a trendy sectional pick in 18
Greenwood ready to improve on record
Roncalli working hard to repeat as sectional champs
Southport enjoying new depth to the roster
Beech Grove has more potential in 2018
Manual ready to put things together with new coach
Greenwood Christian coming off best season in the program
Lutheran wants to hang another sectional banner