Most of the time, coaching changes in sports are associated with not winning enough.
That’s not always the case.
The Center Grove and Franklin volleyball teams finished last season with records of 32-6 and 30-6, respectively — and yet both enter the 2016 season with new head coaches.
For the Trojans, the transition might be a little bit more seamless. First-year coach Maggie Harbison played collegiate volleyball at Butler, where former Center Grove coach Dana (Daprile) Matis also played.
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(The two were never on the Bulldogs’ roster at the same time, though Harbison did play one season with Matis’ younger sister, Katie Daprile.)
Given the common lineage, it would not be surprising if Center Grove’s system doesn’t change all that much. What is somewhat surprising is how little the expectations are changing, given that the Trojans suffered some heavy graduation losses — including the Daily Journal’s 2015 Player of the Year, Madison Smeathers, who now plays at Ohio State.
Harbison inherited a team that reached the semistate round a year ago, and she’s planning to go beyond that, saying that her expectation is to win a state championship. Her players appear to be on the same page.
“I’m expecting to win state this year, too,” junior Devynn Merriman said, adding that she and her teammates appreciated Harbison setting such a high bar for them.
“She didn’t come in here babying us,” Merriman noted. “She came in here and was pushing us super hard and making us better.”
A similar push is being made at Franklin, where Roxanne Chapman is taking over a team that reached the sectional final a year ago. The Grizzly Cubs pushed Center Grove early in the title match before falling, 26-24, 25-20, 25-13.
Chapman has the returning players feeling more confident than ever.
“She wants to win, and I think we’ve needed that for the past two years,” junior Rachel Kinney said. “I think that we have the tools to do really well this season, and I think with her getting us together and getting everything ready to go, she’s going to be a big asset to us winning this year.”
While Chapman is setting expectations high at Franklin, she has shied away from making any sort of specific proclamations, largely because she’s not sure yet where her new team stands. Though she has logged several seasons of experience coaching at Plainfield and Martinsville, Chapman has been away from the game for a little while — she spent the last couple of years overseas while her husband worked in Great Britain.
The former Western Kentucky player may not know what the competition looks like yet, but she’s seen enough of her own players to know that they’ve got some potential.
“I know the things that we need to work on and what each girl needs to do to get better,” Chapman said, “and as a team what we need to do to get better, so that’s kind of my starting place.
“It has been a little while, but volleyball talent’s volleyball talent. It’s kind of like riding a bike.”
There may be a bit of a learning curve early in the season at both schools, but no matter how many bumps there may be in the road in August, Harbison has made it clear that certain hiccups won’t be tolerated — particularly in Center Grove’s opener against Avon.
Harbison was an assistant coach for the Orioles the past two seasons.
“She tells us multiple times that we are not going to lose to them,” Merriman said.
Franklin, meanwhile, would just like another shot at beating the Trojans in the postseason. Having proven a year ago that they could be competitive, the Grizzly Cubs are confident that the little extra push from Chapman might finally get them over the hump this fall.
“Now that we see we have a chance,” Kinney said, “it’s going to be easier for us to go out there and play and not worry so much about the big dog.”
With Harbison at the helm, however, it’s clear that the big dog still has some bite as well.
Should make for an interesting season.
Center Grove Trojans
Coach: Maggie Harbison
Last year: 32-6, lost to Cathedral at Seymour Semistate
Who’s back: Macy Carrabine, senior; Emma Jones, Ellen LeMaster and Devynn Merriman, juniors
Who’s gone: Madison Smeathers, Taylor Hammill, Malea Howie, Tonia Rumble, Lindsey Archer
New kid on the block: M.J. Hammill, freshman
Outlook: The Trojans graduated a boatload of experienced talent off of last year’s regional championship club, but first-year coach Harbison, a former Carmel and Butler standout who was previously an assistant coach at Avon, isn’t tempering her expectations. Center Grove still has a strong returning nucleus, and Harbison appears comfortable handing the reins to freshman setter Hammill right away.
Harbison says: “I expect us to win state. That’s my expectation. The south side of the state bracket is tough, but I also think we have a lot of good players coming from a lot of different angles, so I think we have a good shot at state if we show up and we stay healthy.”
Coach: Tina Bottorff
Last year: 24-10, lost to Indianapolis Lutheran in Indianapolis Lutheran Sectional semifinal
Who’s back: Mara Cox, Bri Howard and Sydney Schlotter, seniors; Taylor Tetlock, sophomore
Who’s gone: Mikala Lain, Lillie Parmer, Megan Rooks, Sydney Richardson
New kids on the block: Paige Burton, Emily Chappalow, Haley Jones, Haven Link and Sophia Parmer, freshmen
Outlook: The Lancers don’t have a ton of bodies — there are just nine players on the varsity roster, including five freshmen — but a nucleus of three seniors should help provide a little stability. Bottorff has an eye to the future, grooming newcomers Burton, Jones and Parmer as potential setters, and the hope is that the youngsters can mature quickly enough to help Edinburgh remain a Class A threat.
Bottorff says: “We do have some height this year in the middle, which is something we haven’t had in a while, and also, with our four girls returning, they all have seen varsity level play, so we have some leadership on the floor.”
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
Coach: Roxanne Chapman
Last year: 30-6, lost to Center Grove in Center Grove Sectional final
Who’s back: Ally Parramore, Addie Payne, Abby Sewell, seniors; Rachel Kinney and Alyvia Sunzheimer, juniors; Isabell Mahin and Brooke Phillips, sophomores
Who’s gone: Sarah Barnard, Megan Hartkorn, Morgan Hash, Kaylee Phillips
New kids on the block: Brooklyn Peddicord, sophomore
Outlook: First-year coach Chapman — who coached a combined 13 years at Plainfield and Martinsville before spending a couple of years abroad — inherits a talented young squad that has most of its key pieces back. Phillips, the team’s setter, and Murray State commit Kinney were both All-County selections a year ago, and they’re joined by Payne, who is committed to Evansville. Chapman begins the season with a roster of eight solid contributors, and that group may end up being the county’s best by season’s end.
Chapman says: “They’ve bought into the system, they’ve worked hard, they’ve come to weights and conditioning all summer, and I’m excited to see where we go from there.”
Coach: Amanda Ratliff
Last year: 18-13, lost to Franklin in Center Grove Sectional semifinal
Who’s back: Camryn LaMonaca and Emily Streuwing, seniors; Alyssa Stilley, sophomore
Who’s gone: Olivia Stilley, Emmalee Stier, Hannah Schover, Hanna Anderson
New kids on the block: Lauren Battinau and Lawson Roberts, sophomores
Outlook: With numbers down overall and some key players graduated from a year ago, expectations have been tempered somewhat. Ratliff is focused on keeping the Woodmen competitive while also building a foundation for the future by bolstering the feeder programs. LaMonaca and Streuwing, along with the younger Stilley, return to lead what should still be a solid team, while the tandem of Battinau and Roberts will be asked to step in and split the setting duties.
Ratliff says: “I’m not expecting our record to go way down. I’m expecting us to still be competitive, and we’re still pushing them to compete with every team.”
Greenwood Christian Cougars
Coach: Jeff Fishburn
Last year: 24-10, lost to Indianapolis Lutheran in Indianapolis Lutheran Sectional final
Who’s back: Katie Cruse, senior; Grace Peters and Sierra Gilson, juniors
Who’s gone: Lexi Hooten, Delanie Kent, Hannah Peters
New kids on the block: Aubrey Odgers and Lexi Odgers, juniors
Outlook: With an already massive junior class bolstered by the arrival of Whiteland transfer Aubrey Odgers, who joins her twin sister Lexi on the varsity roster, the Cougars are taking dead aim at a Class A state championship the next two seasons. Fishburn had a full summer with his team for the first time, and the hope is that an ambitious schedule will have them locked and loaded come tournament time.
Assistant coach Kayla Back says: “We expect to be state contenders this year. … We lost some leadership and height, but what we lost, I think the girls coming back will make up and then some. I don’t think there’s anybody we can’t compete with in our class.”
Indian Creek Braves
Coach: Kristi Gubert
Last year: 11-14, lost to Ritter in Northwest Sectional final
Who’s back: Brittany Dugan and Sara Knight, seniors; Morgan Hogue, junior
Who’s gone: Lucy Keiweg, Baylee Wilson, Mikayla Baugh, Sydney Williams, Elly Nickell
New kids on the block: Mallory Hogue, junior; Malea Brownfield, sophomore
Outlook: The Braves lost a great deal of talent to graduation and also have a new head coach — but Gubert, the JV coach the past two years, is optimistic about what she might get out of her young charges. Dugan and Knight offer some veteran leadership, and the Hogue twins are reunited after being split between varsity and JV last fall. Brownfield takes over the setting duties.
Gubert says: “We’re a young team now, and we’re a team to be looked at, I think. We’ve got a lot of talent. … I’m hoping for this to be one of our best seasons yet.”
Coach: Kristin Estridge
Last year: 6-24, lost to Greenwood in Center Grove Sectional
Who’s back: Elaina Robards and Bailey Wood, seniors; Lindsay Boltz and Abby Quarles, juniors; Tabby Holzhausen, sophomore
Who’s gone: Kylie Glover, Madison Scott, Alyssa McClurg
New kids on the block: Kennedy Syx, junior; Sarah Staples and Hannah Williams, sophomores
Outlook: The Warriors’ roster might look thin on paper, particularly with only two seniors, but Estridge is hopeful that she’s got the program going in the right direction after a productive offseason. Holzhausen and Robards return at setter and libero, respectively, and Quarles, who sat out last season with an ACL tear after playing varsity as a freshman should help bolster the lineup. If all goes according to plan, Whiteland should start trending upward.
Estridge says: “We have girls with experience now … girls with more club experience than we did last year. We’re now getting to the point where they’re playing all year.”