There’s a decent chance that the Center Grove and Franklin volleyball teams will face one another three times this season.
If the first showdown was any indication, this year’s battle for county supremacy will be a good one.
The Trojans came out of Thursday evening’s clash with a 26-24, 25-23, 25-23 victory, but the match certainly didn’t have the same feel as most 3-0 affairs do.
“I’m proud of our girls for finishing in three,” Center Grove coach Maggie Harbison, “because I’m slowly pushing them to be more mentally tough and finish those tight games.”
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On Thursday, every game was tight.
Franklin surged out to a 15-10 lead in the opening set before the Trojans responded with a 9-1 run to pull ahead, 19-16. The Grizzly Cubs regrouped and had a one-point edge at 24-23 before Emma Jones evened it with a kill. Center Grove then took the lead on a block by Madison Hammill and Taylor Dempewolf and closed it out on a Macy Carrabine kill.
Game 2 was no less intense — there were 11 ties and seven lead changes, and neither side led by more than three. Franklin again surged ahead late, 23-21, on consecutive kills from Rachel Kinney before the visitors finished with four straight points. Kills by Anna Line, Emma Jones and Carrabine sealed it.
“We’ve struggled a lot with finishing games,” Carrabine said, “but we’ve been working on that a lot, and tonight we pulled it out.”
In the third game, Center Grove was finally able to get some separation, jumping out in front 6-1 and holding the upper hand throughout. The Grizzly Cubs didn’t fold, though — down by as many as six, the hosts rallied back to tie it at 23-23 before the Trojans finished the job with a Carrabine kill and a block by Dempewolf and Ellen LeMasters.
Despite the defeat, Franklin coach Roxanne Chapman felt good about her team’s performance — particularly since sophomore Brooke Phillips had just been cleared to return Wednesday after missing two weeks with inflammation in her shoulder.
“I would’ve liked to have taken a game, but I knew we would struggle a bit,” Chapman said.
Phillips had 32 assists for the Grizzly Cubs, while Kinney had 14 kills and 16 digs.
For Center Grove, Carrabine led the way with 10 kills and 16 digs. Line added eight kills, while fellow freshman Madison Hammill finished with 31 assists and 11 digs.
Both sides seemed eager for a rematch or two later on — particularly Franklin.
“We had opportunities,” Chapman said. “This game really doesn’t mean that much to me, as opposed to the end of the year, when hopefully we’ll get to see them again — and that’s when it means something.”