Nobody expected it to be over quite so quickly.
The second meeting of the season between the Center Grove and Franklin volleyball teams, this one for the Johnson County tournament championship, was supposed to be an intense clash between the No. 10 and No. 14 teams in class 4A.
Instead, the Trojans made short work of the Grizzly Cubs, claiming the title with a 25-14, 25-21, 25-12 sweep at Greenwood High School on Thursday night.
“I don’t think we had really played to our ability yet,” Trojan middle blocker Emma Jones said, “and that is what we can do.”
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The opening set was tight early, with Center Grove (19-7) clinging to a slim 13-12 lead midway through before pulling away with a late surge. Kills by senior Macy Carrabine and junior Taylor Dempewolf closed the game out.
Franklin (20-4) seemed to bounce back in the second, grabbing an early 9-4 advantage and forcing the Trojans to take a timeout. Center Grove clawed back to tie it at 14-14, and the two teams were deadlocked on six straight occasions after that before a service ace by freshman Ashley Eck helped spark a closing 5-1 spurt by the Trojans.
There was no such drama in the third, as Center Grove took the lead for good at 5-4 and quickly created some distance.
Trojans coach Maggie Harbison credited Jones with setting the tone early, noting that the team seemed to follow her lead. She also praised the play of freshman setter Madison Hammill, who finished with 31 assists.
“That was a good win,” Harbison said. “I felt like we had a lot of energy, and our serve receive was good when we needed it to be.”
“I remember the last time we played them, it was really close,” added Carrabine, who led the Trojans with 12 kills, “so for us to come out and play like that, it’s great.”
Franklin coach Roxanne Chapman wasn’t nearly as thrilled, but she’s hopeful that her team can take something from the setback and move on.
“We struggled,” she said. “There were some things that we didn’t do very well, and we just talked about that. It’s probably the first time this season I’ve seen us really get down on ourselves and each other.
“So yeah, I am surprised. But to me, it’s not the end of the season yet. What can we learn from it? what can we take from it and make ourselves better?”
Rachel Kinney paced Franklin with 11 kills, while Brooke Phillips finished with 10 kills and 13 assists. Brooklyn Peddicord added 13 digs.
Ellen LeMasters had 11 kills and Devynn Merimann totaled 21 digs for Center Grove, which is all too aware that this probably won’t be the last it sees of the Grizzly Cubs.
“Not super excited to see them if we see them in sectionals,” Harbison conceded. “It’s hard to beat a team three times because Franklin’s a good team.
“I just think we played really well tonight.”
In Thursday’s third-place match, Greenwood gutted out a 25-19, 25-19, 17-25, 11-25, 15-12 victory against Indian Creek.