DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Sixth-ranked Center Grove defended its Johnson County Tournament volleyball championship with a three-game victory against Franklin at Greenwood Community High School.
Center Grove won 26-24, 25-15, 25-10.
Earlier the Trojans stopped Edinburgh, ranked 16th in Class A, in the semifinals in three straight, 25-8, 25-10 and 25-18. The Grizzly Cubs beat host Greenwood 25-12, 25-11, 25-17 in the other semifinal.
Center Grove coach Dana Matis applauded the Trojans’ effort in winning a second straight county title.
“We talked about grit before the game and for this season,” Matis said. “The girls brought that in the first game, one that Franklin played well.”
Franklin (21-4), rated No. 12 in the latest coaches’ poll, seemingly had the first game in hand, leading Center Grove 24-20. But the Trojans reeled off six straight points to pull out a 26-24 win and with it the momentum needed to defend its title.
That loss not only was the catalyst for the Trojans’ victory, it also took almost everything away from the Cubs — pep, strategy and focus.
Center Grove had an easier time in Game 2, winning 25-15.
“We played well that first game, but we couldn’t close that one out, and that tells me we don’t have the mental toughness,” Franklin coach Travis Gabehart said.
“We were dead in the second and third games. Our resilience was lacking.”
Center Grove took the lead early in the second game, making several key saves to keep the ball alive and score.
The Cubs couldn’t keep up point for point with the Trojans, who gradually built their lead up.
Center Grove wasn’t flawless, made some errors, but the Cubs could not take advantage of those errors.
“We started serving better and had more runs in those games,” Matis said. “We kept the ball off the floor, took better care of the ball and had aggressive serves.”
Center Grove improved to 23-5 on the season
For the Cubs, they still have time to find some grit of their own.
“There are good losses and bad ones,” Gabehart said. “We haven’t had the competition and that hasn’t helped us. We haven’t been pushing ourselves and we need to do that from now on.”