By RICHIE HALL
Reporter Sports Editor
Volleyball sectionals are underway, and the one at Noblesville will be exciting right out of the gate.
The Mill will be the site of Class 4A Sectional 8, and the first match will be between No. 6-ranked Fishers and No. 8-rated Hamilton Southeastern. Play begins at 6 p.m. Thursday and will be followed by the Millers taking on Carmel.
The clash between the Tigers and the Royals will be exciting, and you can bet the players and coaches are excited for it as well.
“Our team is really looking forward to Thursday night,” said Fishers coach Steven Peek. “We’ve had a lot of success in 2017, and it’s been thanks to the players’ ability to grow during the course of the season.”
“We are playing well and excited for a chance to play our cross town rival,” said Southeastern coach Jason Young. He noted that the Royals have won 17 of their last 18 matches, including victories over Zionsville, Center Grove, and New Castle.
“We feel that we are battle tested with our schedule and like our chances,” said Young. “We are led by a tremendous group of six seniors who are tournament tested. Three players were part of the 2015 semi-state runner up squad. We are finally fully healthy and ready to roll.”
The two teams have actually played each other twice this season. The first match was back on Aug. 19 at the Kokomo Tournament, where the Tigers swept to a 25-14, 25-17 win. The official regular-season) and Mudsock) match came on Sept. 7, with Fishers coming back from two sets down to win 22-25, 16-25, 25-51, 25-23, 15-5.
The Tigers are 24-3, with their only losses coming to teams ranked higher than them in 4A: No. 4 Zionsville, No. 1 Yorktown and No. 3 Avon.
Fishers’ offense is led by senior Mallory Hernandez, who has hit 368 kills for the season. Junior Audrey Haworth has put down 272 kills. Peek said his team’s offense looks “fantastic right now.”
“We’ve got a brilliant setter and super dynamic decision-makers hitting the ball,” said Peek. “We’re very confident we can earn a lot of points offensively, and have the defensive intensity to create those chances.”
The Tigers’ setter is junior Rose Duffy, who has handed out 861 assists this season. She is also leading Fishers in service aces with 36, followed by junior Emma Rosenberg, who has 33 aces.
The two juniors are also leading in digs, with Rosenberg collecting 230 and Duffy getting 222. Senior Elizabeth Weeks has 66 blocks (11 solo, 55 assists), and junior Haley Soper has made 54 (five solo, 49 assists).
As for 24-8 Southeastern, junior Taylor Shelton leads the hitting with 271 kills, with senior Meredith Phillips spiking 243. Phillips is one of the three seniors that were part of the Royals’ semi-state run.
One of those seniors is Lark Jones, who has been unstoppable at the net: She has 84 blocks, eight solo and 76 assists. Freshman Olivia Phillips has made 54 blocks (three solo, 51 assists). When Olivia isn’t blocking, she’s running the offense, having dished out 792 assists.
The third semi-state senior is Grace Kane. The defensive specialist leads in digs with 431, but has also served the most HSE aces with 36. Freshman Carly Mills has scooped up 241 digs and senior Kat Wagner has made 210. Shelton and Wagner have each served 30 aces.
Thursday’s second match will feature Carmel and Noblesville. The Millers are 19-13 playing against a difficult schedule.
The Greyhounds, meanwhile, are 18-15. The two teams met on Sept. 20, with Noblesville winning 25-18, 25-15, 26-28, 25-19. Since then, Carmel has won eight straight matches. That included a re-match this past Saturday at the Carmel Invitational. Playing a best-of-three set match, the ‘Hounds won 18-25, 25-23, 15-7.
Noblesville has a power hitter in sophomore Lexie Almodovar, who has put down 438 kills this season. Senior Alexa Roberts is next in line with 218 kills. Almodovar is also leading the Miller serving with 42 aces. In fact, Noblesville has a strong list of servers: Seniors Brenna Everingham (40), Stephanie Meysembourg (39) and Maddie Hine (30) have all hit the 30-ace mark this season.
Everingham leads in digs with 483,, followed by Almodovar with 299, Meysembourg with 219 and Hine with 200. Hine has handed out 814 assists, with freshman Ava Nichols making the most of her playing time with 307 assists. Senior Emily Kiser, a University of Michigan basketball commit, has 56 blocks.
“The Noblesville Volleyball Team has gone through a few highs and lows over the last couple of weeks but look find their rhythm in sectionals,” said Noblesville coach Steve Hawthorne. “The Millers open with first round sectional opponent Carmel High School who they are 1-1 against this season. We had the opportunity these last couple of practices to address some areas of weakness and look to have a strong start to the tournament.”
The Greyhounds’ star on offense is senior Madeline Armstrong, who played for Carmel’s 2014 state championship team as a freshman. Armstrong has hit 258 kills this season. Junior Sophie Oliphant has served 42 aces and made 162 digs to lead both categories.
Senior Kailey Akins leads at the net with 32 blocks, 30 solo and two assists. Junior Lauren Van Remortel has handed out 412 assists this season.
The winners of Thursday’s matches will play the first semi-final at 11 a.m. Saturday, and that will be followed by the second semi-final between Westfield and Anderson.
The Shamrocks are 16-17 for the season, while the Indians are 7-18. Junior Kinsey McAfee is leading the offense with 257 kills, with senior Grace Weber putting down 207. Junior Bailey Mendler has served 64 aces, with freshman Kenzie Dafinee has 57 aces to her credit.
Westfield’s blocking has been strong. Sophomore Hillary Muntel leads that category with 66 blocks (20 solo, 46 assists), with McAfee making 47 blocks (20 solo, 27 assists) and sophomore Anna Johnsey stuffing 41 blocks (nine solo, 32 assists). Senior Claire Hindman has 380 digs, with Mendler collecting 201. The Shamrocks have two setters: Senior Caroline Sinicki has dished out 490 assists, with freshman Sarah Weglarz handing out 278.
Hamilton Heights travels to Delta on Thursday to play its first match. The Huskies will take on No. 5-ranked Wapahani at 6 p.m.
Heights is 14-14, while the Raiders are 27-4. Three of Waphani’s losses are to Yorktown, with Avon the other defeat. The Raiders finished 9-0 in the Mid-Eastern Conference. Senior Skyler Van Note is Wapahani’s kill leader with 411; she also has the team’s most blocks with 61 (44 solo, 17 assists). Senior Lexi Spence has 965 assists.
Senior Ana Collar has been a true leader for the Huskies, as she is first on the team in kills (222) and digs (314), second in blocks (60) and assists (314) and third in aces (33). Junior Sydney Griffey has 40 aces, with senior Emma Knowles serving 35. Knowles also has 367 assists to lead that category.
Other defensive leaders include senior kylie Rose with 251 digs, junior Hannah Crist with 252 and Knowles with 208.
Guerin Catholic received the bye in the seven-team Cardinal Ritter sectional, and will play Crispus Attucks Saturday morning. Attucks beat Indianapolis Northwest in straight sets Tuesday to open the sectional. The Tigers are 6-13, among their leaders is senior Teague Brewer with 58 blocks (46 solo and 12 assists) and 29 aces
The Golden Eagles are 9-15 for the season. Junior Jenna Wolfgram leads in kills with 233, while senior Isabel Couto has served up 27 aces. Senior Molly Witt has 37 season blocks (17 solo, 20 assists), senior Megan Hook has collected 270 digs, and sophomore Ashley Utnage has provided 337 assists. Couto has dished out 200 assists this season.
Sheridan will play at the Alexandria sectional and take on Elwood in Thursday’s second semi-final.
The Blackhawks are 3-17 for the season, while Elwood is 14-16. Freshman Allie Delph has 56 kills for Sheridan, with senior Morgan Christy serving 25 aces, handing out 92 assists and making 25 blocks. Senior Lauren Railer has scooped up 107 digs.
University will travel to Indiana School for the Deaf on Saturday, where they will take on host in the second semi-final at 12:30 p.m.
The Trailblazers are 8-14, while ISD is 19-10. Senior Clare Little has 91 kills for University. The Trailblazers have strong serving: Sophomore Elise Nachlis has 47 aces, Little 38, sophomore Gillian Monroe 31 and freshman Soren Rothenberg 43.
Sophomore Lindsey Syrek has 17 season blocks (11 solo and six assists), with Little collecting 125 digs and Monroe handing out 197 assists.
By RICHIE HALL