The past 48 hours haven’t gone exactly how Center Grove volleyball coach Maggie Harbison would have scripted them, but she’s still fine with the end result.
Playing without star setter Madison Hammill, who was sidelined by an ankle injury sustained after practice Wednesday, the Trojans managed to continue their reign over the rest of Johnson County with a 25-18, 27-25, 25-19 victory against Franklin in the country tourney final at Edinburgh on Thursday night.
Freshman Jenna Otto did an admirable job filling in for Hammill on short notice.
“It was really nerve-wracking, but it was an opportunity for me to play, so I’m happy I got it,” Otto said.
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Center Grove (25-2) was in control for most of the first set and then countered Franklin’s best punches in a second set that included 12 ties and four lead changes. The Grizzly Cubs had a 24-22 edge and a pair of set points, but a couple of errors gave the Trojans a window, and senior Emma Jones delivered the closing kill.
Franklin (22-4) dug its way out of an early six-point deficit in the final set and had the score tied at 19-19, but an Ellen LeMasters kill set off a closing six-point run by Center Grove.
Harbison said that Hammill’s timeline for a return is not yet known, but Thursday helped give the Trojans confidence that they can stay afloat in the meantime.
“Of course we want MJ healthy,” Harbison said of Hammill, “but we’ve got games to play, so we’ve got to piece something together.”
Franklin had expended a great deal of energy just getting to the title match. Greenwood Christian gave the Grizzly Cubs all they could handle in their semifinal showdown before the favorites rallied for a 25-16, 19-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-13 triumph. Franklin’s final two points in the decisive set came on kills by Sundheimer.
Cougars coach Kayla back was left lamenting a handful of points, but she was happy with how her team (19-4) acquitted itself in its first county tournament appearance.
“(Franklin) made some really crucial plays when they needed it,” Back said. “But it’s an eye-opener for the school, it’s an eye-opener for the county. It’s an eye-opener for my kids. … Anybody watching that game knows that that’s a 1A contender standing on that floor.”
“It showed us that we have such a huge future ahead of us,” Greenwood Christian senior Sierra Gilson added. “We know what we can accomplish and what we’ll achieve in the future. We have great things ahead of us, and great outcomes are going to come our way.”
Center Grove had a much easier path to the championship round, rolling past Indian Creek in straight sets, 25-9, 25-13, 25-13. The Braves fell to 22-7 with the loss.