An athletics series can only be referred to as a rivalry if both programs win on a regular basis.

In volleyball, Center Grove has reigned supreme over Franklin in 12 of their past 14 matches dating back to the 2010 season.

Nine of the Trojans’ triumphs were 3-0 sweeps, including both meetings this season.

Hardly rivalry material.

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And yet starting Oct. 20 at the Class 4A sectional at Greenwood Community High School, the Trojans and Grizzly Cubs know to be wary of the other.

Center Grove, which is on its third head coach in six seasons, owns a seven-match winning streak against the Cubs — or 21 games in which the Trojans made it to 25 points first.

Consider, however, that in 13 of those games Franklin achieved at least 20 points.

“Franklin is really a dominant force, and they’re 10 minutes away from us, so of course it’s going to be a rivalry,” said Maggie Harbison, who in her first season as coach has guided Center Grove to a 22-8 record and a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title.

“It honestly reminds me of the rivalry between Avon (where Harbison was an assistant coach for two seasons) and Brownsburg. We always want to play our best against Franklin, and they always want to play our best against us.”

Given its enrollment and conference affiliation, Center Grove traditionally plays the more difficult regular-season schedule. Ranked 10th in Class 4A, the Trojans have already peered through the net at seven of the nine teams ahead of them in the latest coaches’ poll.

Franklin, which is 22-6 and captured the Mid-State Conference crown with a 6-0 mark, has battled three of 4A’s finest: second-ranked Avon (twice), No. 4 Cathedral and Center Grove (twice). The Grizzly Cubs also have faced Class 3A No. 2 Providence.

They are 0-6 in those matches and 22-0 against everyone else.

First-year Grizzly Cubs coach Roxanne Chapman noticed markedly different team strengths during the Trojans’ two wins earlier this season against her squad.

In the two matches, the Cubs’ leaders in kills — sophomore Isabell Mahin and juniors Rachel Kinney and Alyvia Sundheimer — combined for 38 kills.

Franklin’s leaders all season in service aces — Mahin, Kinney and sophomore setter Brooke Phillips — teamed up for a total of just three in six games against Center Grove.

Meanwhile, the Trojans’ trio of senior Macy Carrabine, junior Ellen LeMasters and freshman Ashley Eck served up eight aces against the Cubs.

“The makeup of their team is just a lot different than mine,” Chapman said. “Their passing is strong and our hitting is strong. We struggle to get them out of their passing.”

Harbison understands how difficult it can be knocking off a good opponent three times in one season. Center Grove won the first meeting, 26-24, 25-23, 25-23, and more recently 25-14, 25-21, 25-12 in the county championship.

“If we pass well, we’re really hard to beat,” Harbison said. “Our first match with Franklin, we won every game by two points. It’s one of those rivalries where our girls put a lot of pressure on themselves.”

History lesson

A look at the recent volleyball history between Center Grove and Franklin:

2016

Center Grove, 3-0

Center Grove, 3-0

2015

Center Grove, 3-1

Center Grove, 3-0

Center Grove, 3-0

2014

Center Grove, 3-0

Center Grove, 3-0

2013

Franklin, 3-0

Franklin, 3-1

2012

Center Grove, 3-0

Center Grove, 3-0

2011

Center Grove, 3-2

Center Grove, 3-0

2010

Center Grove, 3-1

If you go

The sectional draws for local high school volleyball teams:

Class 4A Greenwood Sectional

Thursday, Oct. 20

Greenwood vs. Martinsville, 5:30 p.m.

Center Grove vs. Franklin Central, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 22

Thursday’s winners, 11 a.m.

Franklin vs. Whiteland, 12:30 p.m.

Championship, 7 p.m.

Class 3A Cardinal Ritter Sectional

Thursday, Oct. 20

Indianapolis Northwest vs. Cardinal Ritter, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 22

Indian Creek vs. Beech Grove, 10 a.m.

Thursday’s winner vs. Danville, 11:30 a.m.

Championship, 7 p.m.

Class A Indianapolis Lutheran Sectional

Thursday, Oct. 20

Central Christian vs. Morristown, 6 p.m.

Indianapolis Lutheran vs. Indianapolis Arlington, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 22

Thursday’s winners, 11 a.m.

Edinburgh vs. Greenwood Christian, 1 p.m.

Championship, 7 p.m.

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.