When the match was on the line last Tuesday between volleyball powers Center Grove and Avon, the Trojans knew who they wanted the ball to go to.
And Ellen LeMasters wasn’t about to shy away from those big moments.
“I want the ball,” the senior outside hitter said. “I was just determined to put it away, because I wanted to win.”
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Center Grove rallied for a five-set home win against the Orioles, and LeMasters was the driving force, collecting a team-high 18 kills and adding eight blocks. As the lone Trojan hitter who also plays full-time on the back row, she also pulled up 11 digs.
There figure to be more big moments tonight, when Center Grove — ranked 66th nationally in the preseason by Prep Volleyball.com — hosts defending Class 4A state champion Cathedral.
LeMasters led the Trojans in kills as a junior with 448, but she hadn’t had to worry about filling a major leadership role; that belonged to Macy Carrabine, the lone senior on the roster a year ago and now a player at the University of Denver.
With Carrabine gone, LeMasters knew she was not only going to have to up her on-court production but also take on more responsibility as a team leader.
“I need to step up, take charge and be a leader for the rest of the team,” LeMasters said. “I looked upon (Carrabine) and saw how she led the team and I was like, ‘I want to do that my senior year,’ and I want to win a state championship.”
So far this season, she’s off to a good start. LeMasters had 19 kills in a season-opening four-set win over New Castle, then followed up with her double-double against Avon, a match that saw Center Grove come back after dropping the first two sets.
It’s such performances that demonstrate LeMasters’ ability to lead primarily by example.
“Ellen’s not so much a person who leads with her voice,” Center Grove coach Maggie Harbison said. “She leads by her actions and the way she plays.”