DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Center Grove senior middle blocker Madison Smeathers hasn’t been able to let go of the disappointment from losing last year’s sectional match to Roncalli.
“We have a lot of built up frustration over that,” Smeathers said. “We want to take it all out this year.”
Thursday night, the Class 4A No. 4 Trojans moved a step closer to putting that behind them by beating Martinsville 25-8, 25-16, 25-14 in the semifinals at Center Grove.
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Center Grove (29-5), which had a first-round bye along with Martinsville, will meet Franklin (30-5), which swept Greenwood in the first semifinal, in the championship at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Center Grove.
Center Grove topped Franklin twice this season, four sets in the regular season and three sets in the Johnson County tournament.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times, but we’ve been preparing all week for them,” said the 6-foot-4 Smeathers, who led the Trojans with 11 kills.
Senior outside hitter Malea Howie added 10 kills.
Trojans coach Dana Matis said her team came out with a lot of energy against Martinsville.
“Our defense did a great job with some really scrappy play,” Matis said. “Those are the plays that give a team energy and enthusiasm.”
Matis said the Trojans will need that energy again against Franklin.
“It’s tough because they know our tendencies and we know theirs,” Matis said.
The Grizzly Cubs eliminated Greenwood 25-18, 25-19, 25-13.
“Our play was rough on Tuesday (in a four-set win against Franklin Central) and we weren’t happy with how we played there,” Franklin coach Travis Gabehart said. “We had a bad practice (Wednesday) so didn’t know what to expect coming into (Thursday).
“We got out of whatever funk we were in and getting back to playing our normal game, so that was good to see. We feel better about going into Saturday now.”
Gabehart said his team served aggressively and cut down on its errors against Greenwood.
“We had so many unforced errors on Tuesday,” Gabehart said. “We were playing much cleaner volleyball, and we were forcing the other team to make mistakes. That’s what you got to do to win these games.
“Our middles definitely opened up things for us. That helps our whole offense open up more when you have your middles going.”
Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Kinney led the Cubs with 10 kills.
Franklin had leads of 8-1 and 14-5 before settling for a 25-18 victory in the first set.
“The fast start helped us a lot,” Kinney said. “It was a great night to rebound from Tuesday and get our butts in gear for Saturday.”
Franklin junior Addie Payne came off the bench to have six kills.
“She stepped in and played well for us,” Gabehart said.
Freshman setter Brooke Phillips added four aces.
The Cubs swept all three matches against Greenwood.
“They’ve got a lot of talented girls on their team,” said Woodmen coach Amanda Ratliff, whose team finished 18-13. “It’s tough to compete when you got hard balls coming at you from all directions.”
Greenwood will lose three key senior players, Olivia Stilley, Hannah Schober and Emmalee Stier.
“We did a lot of good things this season,” said Ratliff, who missed part of the season after having a baby. “We set some pretty good goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year, and we made most of them.
“We always want to win a little more and go a little further, but we did pretty well for what we are working with. We had some injuries and illnesses. We battled pretty well.”
At the Class A Lutheran Sectional, Edinburgh won its quarterfinal match against Central Christian Academy, 25-12, 25-12, 25-6.With the win, the Lancers advance to Saturday’s 11 a.m. semifinals against Lutheran. The Saints defeated Morristown in the other quarterfinal.