Senior staff writer
Center Grove and Lutheran garnered girls volleyball sectional championships Saturday.
In an all-Southside Class 4A finale at Decatur Central, revenge-minded Roncalli dominated defending sectional champion Perry Meridian 25-18, 25-19, 25-12. The Rebels topped Pike 25-20, 25-15, 25-17 in semifinal action.
The Rebels have won 26 sectional trophies, including three since moving to 4A in 2011.
Roncalli junior Grace Hegwood led the Rebels with 17 kills and 14 digs, and freshman Miranda Wilson had 11 kills. Sophomore Abby Johnson added eight kills and was solid defensively at the net. Juniors Elizabeth Eads and Betsy Crosley each recorded seven. Senior setter Lauren Fey had 40 of the team’s 50 assists and 15 digs, as did senior Libero Hannah.
“We were young last year, and we had the exact same team coming back,” Coach Missy Marsh said. “We just jelled together and played well together. Playing Perry was easy to get hyped for (because) they put us out of the sectional last year so the girls wanted to avenge that loss.
“This team is made of girls who were not happy with the outcome of the season last year and decided to do something about it. They worked on strength and speed in the off season and chose daily to improve both physically and mentally. Our four seniors are very driven and they pushed our squad to be successful this year.”
Against Pike, the Rebels were led by Hegwood, 10 kills and 8 blocks; Eads, 10 kills; Irmer 24 digs; and Fey, 31 assists.
The Rebels (25-8) won the Circle City Conference and the Marion County tourney. They are among 11 volleyball programs in the state with 25 or more sectional titles.
Perry Meridian junior standout Caitie Baird (Stanford commit) had 25 kills and senior Taylor Hooten had 14 assists for the Falcons (11-20).
In another all-Southside sectional championship match, Lutheran avenged last year’s five-set sectional final loss to Greenwood Christian Academy 25-21, 25-14, 25-13, in 1A at Morristown.
The Saints came off a gritty 3-1 semifinal win against Morristown 24-26, 25-9, 25-15, 25-12. GCA defeated Central Christian earlier 25-12, 25-10, 25-7.
Lutheran, coached by Kathy Anderson, has won six championships in the last nine years.
“Cool, calm and collected” was the way Anderson described the Saints’ play against GCA (25-9), which graduates Sierra Gilson, Grace Peters, Sarah Mangan and twins Aubrey and Lexi Odgens. Gilson and Peters had eight kills each against Central Christian.
After a slow start, Lutheran rallied to win the first set, which was tied 14 times. Lutheran built a 20-10 lead in the second set and a commanding 18-4 lead in the third one.
Junior Rylee Morris ended the match with her 11th kill. The Saints combined for 48 kills in the two matches with Erin Pasch nailing 19, Morris 13 and Dara Milivojak 12. Senior setter Kristen Simons accounted for most of the assists.
At Martinsville, Center Grove (32-5) grabbed its third straight sectional title by weathering a first-set 27-25 nail biter against rival Franklin and then rolling 25-12, 25-19. The Trojans earlier defeated Franklin Central 25-14, 25-21, 25-20.
The Trojans were led by the outside hitting of senior Ellen Lemasters, digs by Devynn Merriman and sets by sophomore MJ Hammill, who has recovered from a late-season ankle injury. Lemasters had 12 kills, including six in the first set against Franklin. Senior Emma Jones had six blocks.
The Grizzly Cubs led the first set 23-21, but the Trojans tied it twice before winning.
Lemasters remarked, “They were out to get us, so we knew we had to show up and play our best. We had the lead for most of the set and let them come back. We brought ourselves together and never gave up.”
CG coach Maggie Harbison said her goal this week was to get the girls some rest and then she talked about their 32-win campaign.
“We are healthier and not as young as last year,” she said. “Everybody does their job and does their role. We’re a gritty team, and we like to have fun. I don’t think people realize that were as good as we are on defense.”
Saturday’s regional action
• 4A at Greenfield: 10 a.m., Roncalli vs. No. 2 Avon; noon, Lawrence North vs. New Palestine; 8 p.m., championship.
• 4A at Seymour: 10 a.m., No. 3 Providence vs. Bloomington South; noon, No. 8 Center Grove vs. Castle; 7 p.m., championship.
• 1A at Morristown: 10 a.m., Tindley vs. Clay City; noon, Lutheran vs. No. 7 Hauser; 7 p.m., championship.
Online editor Nathan Pace, correspondent Kimmie Kuehr and Roncalli sports information director Rob Brown contributed to this article.