Senior outside hitter Ellen LeMasters chalked up 24 kills Tuesday night, and her team needed every one of them.
Center Grove sweated out a 20-25, 25-18, 25-20, 24-26, 15-8 victory at Carmel in a match that lasted nearly two hours and kept spectators entertained throughout.
The Trojans improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings. The Greyhounds drop to 3-8 and 0-2.
LeMasters knew Carmel’s record coming in but didn’t sense that her team overlooked the Greyhounds.
“We didn’t want to overlook them, but we didn’t finish in some games. Especially the first game. But I’m glad we finished them in five,” she said. “They’re not a bad team. They have good talent.
“I just think we weren’t disciplined. We just didn’t come out ready to play our best.”
Carmel wasted no time getting the Trojans’ attention, leading by as many as seven points in the first set before winning the set. The Greyhounds jumped out to a 4-1 advantage to start the second, but the Trojans, led by LeMasters, setter Madison Hammill and middle blocker Emma Jones, rallied to take the second.
Center Grove withstood a furious late rally by the Hounds in the third set to prevail but squandered a 22-18 lead in the fourth as Carmel pulled even.
The deciding set still was close with the Trojans leading, 6-4, when the visitors put it away with a strong finish. In the final 9-4 run, LeMasters, Jones and Anna Line all had kills, with senior middle blocker Taylor Dempewolf recording two blocks and Santina Schembra a service ace.
Jones finished with 14 kills, while Hammill added 11 — the majority on left-handed dinks. Line came through with nine kills.
First-year Carmel coach Reynae Pierce, whose squad started the season winning one of its first eight matches, viewed Tuesday’s match as another step forward.
“It’s unfortunate that counts as a loss for us, but overall we are counting that as a team victory,” Pierce said. “We’ve made so many strides in a positive direction even in just the last week. I’m loving what I’m seeing and how fast we’re moving.”
The Trojans will host county rival Franklin on Thursday.