Having suffered its first defeat of the season against Zionsville on Saturday, the Center Grove volleyball team was determined to right the ship Tuesday evening.

Not even defending state champion Cathedral was going to do anything to stop the Trojans from getting back on track.

Senior Ellen LeMasters hammered home 16 kills to pace a strong all-around effort for Center Grove, which needed just three sets to polish off the Fighting Irish, 25-16, 27-25, 25-18.

“I think we were really determined to come back and show what we’re really made of,” said senior Emma Jones, who added 10 kills and three blocks in the win. “(Zionsville) was a game where we weren’t completely focused, and I think tonight we came back focused and ready to play.

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“I was very pleased with how we played. Our serving and passing were both really good today.”

The opening set was tied at 7-7 before a kill by sophomore Anna Line kick-started a 10-2 run that put Center Grove (4-1) firmly in control. A tip by Line finished the game off at 25-16.

A tighter second set started breaking the Trojans’ way when an ace from sophomore Ashley Eck put them in front at 10-9 and began a surge that pushed the lead to 17-11. The Irish (4-3) crept back, briefly taking the lead at 24-23, but Center Grove was able to put it away when senior Taylor Dempewolf registered a kill and an ace on consecutive points.

LeMasters and Jones did the bulk of the heavy lifting during the third set, including back-to-back kills that helped stretch the Center Grove lead to 19-15. Line put away the final point, capping off the sweep.

“It’s really motivating for us,” senior libero Devynn Merriman said after the match. “Knowing that we beat the state champs from last year is definitely going to push us farther.”

Merriman had 21 digs on the back row for Center Grove, while Santina Schembra added 12. Sophomore setter Madison Hammill finished with 36 assists, nine digs and six kills.

Life won’t get much easier for the Trojans, with big matches looming next week against rivals Carmel and Franklin. Coach Maggie Harbison, though, enjoys seeing her team respond to the repeated challenges.

“We have a pretty tough schedule,” she said, “so it’s nice seeing tough teams right out of the gate, because we’ve got to find a way to win.

“We just wanted to play clean volleyball tonight, and we did. It felt good.”

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.