Center Grove volleyball coach Maggie Harbison has seen film of Castle and Providence, the two teams they’ll likely have to beat to win a regional title on Saturday.
When it comes down to it, though, that tape isn’t all that important. The Trojans figure that as long as they take care of home and do what they’re supposed to do, the rest will fall into place.
“That’s the biggest thing that will determine how far we go,” senior Ellen LeMasters said. “We just have to do our job and play our best.”
That philosophy had worked pretty well for Center Grove during a 26-2 start, but the Trojans absorbed a few late-season losses with sophomore setter Madison Hammill sidelined for two and a half weeks by an ankle injury.
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The time off, though, forced the team to generate more depth — and it gave Hammill a fresh sense of perspective.
“I definitely picked up on a lot of different behaviors and what everybody needs and how they respond to different things on the court,” she said, “so I’m going back out there with a different mindset of how to help my teammates better and what they need on the court.”
Hammill returned last weekend to help Center Grove (31-5) to straight-set sectional wins over Franklin Central and Franklin. Next up is a regional semifinal against Castle, with No. 3 Providence likely awaiting in the championship match should the Trojans advance.
It’ll be a tough road, but Center Grove expects nothing less at this point.
“You’ve just got to show up to play,” Harbison said, “because all the teams are going to be good from here on out.”
“Right now, we’re just focusing on us and focusing on our game,” Hammill added.
For a talented senior class that includes LeMasters, libero Devynn Merriman and middles Emma Jones and Taylor Dempewolf, there’s an extra sense of urgency after coming up short in regionals last season. But the entire team is feeling that, especially after dropping three of the last six regular-season matches.
“We realize, ‘All right, when you lose, you’re out,’ so we’ve just got to keep working together,” LeMasters said, “and I think we can do really good things if we all stay focused and work hard.”
Class 4A Seymour Regional
Providence vs. Bloomington South, 10 a.m.
Center Grove vs. Castle, noon
Championship, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $7 per session or $10 for full day
A look at the teams competing in Saturday’s volleyball regional at Seymour:
Bloomington South Panthers
IndianaPrepVolleyball.com ranking: 51st overall, 27th in Class 4A
Against the field: Lost at Providence on Sept. 2, 25-17, 25-16; lost to Center Grove at home on Sept. 21, 25-23, 25-21, 25-21
Players to watch: Lucy Anderson, Grace Bland, Sydney Conger, Kenadee Coyle, Bailey DeMier
IndianaPrepVolleyball.com ranking: Third overall and in Class 4A
Against the field: Beat Bloomington South at home on Sept. 2, 25-17, 25-16; beat Castle at home on Sept. 9, 25-6, 25-8, 25-20
Players to watch: Lilly Bivens, Courtney Glotzbach, Ali Hornung, Marissa Hornung, Hanna Mitchell
IndianaPrepVolleyball.com ranking: 32nd overall, 18th in Class 4A
Against the field: Lost at Providence on Sept. 9, 25-6, 25-8, 25-20
Players to watch: Carly Harpenau, Hannah Rae Kivett, Jessica Nunge, Sydney Wilkerson
Center Grove Trojans
IndianaPrepVolleyball.com ranking: Ninth overall, seventh in Class 4A
Against the field: Won at Bloomington South on Sept. 21, 25-23, 25-21, 25-21
Players to watch: Madison Hammill, Emma Jones, Anna Line, Ellen LeMasters, Devynn Merriman
There are no pushovers once you get to this point in the season, but the Pioneers and Trojans are fairly heavy favorites to move on and play for the regional crown on Saturday night. Center Grove hasn’t beaten a team of Providence’s caliber in a while — the Pioneers haven’t lost to an in-state opponent this season, and Purdue recruit Marissa Hornung was the national sophomore of the year two seasons ago — but the Trojans did beat No. 2 Avon back in August, and they also own a win over the same Louisville Mercy team that handed Providence its lone defeat, so they know they’re capable. Barring a big surprise in one of the semifinals, you can expect an all-out war on Saturday evening.