By Mark Morrow — HSE Royals Sports Media
There’s nothing easy about the Noblesville Volleyball Sectional that gets under way on Thursday.
Never is in this Class 4A field.
For Hamilton Southeastern, the opportunity is there . . . and it could be golden.
The No. 9 Lady Royals, who were 24-8 in the regular season, will ride a great deal of momentum into Sectional 8 after winning 17 of their final 18 matches.
So their “A’’ game should be polished and ready to go when they collide with No. 6 and City Rival Fishers HS (24-3) at 6 o’clock at The Mill.
The Lady Royals have come a long way after losing 5 games while last year’s Hamilton County Player of the Year, Meredith Phillips, was sidelined with an injury.
“Very proud of this group and how they have matured over the season. Seniors have taken on a more vocal role and have been the leaders of this group,’’ coach Jason Young said.
“Obviously, the start of the season was problematic (with Phillips out). We had 2 freshmen playing vital roles and had to grow up really fast. They are playing like Juniors right now.’’
The freshmen are DS Carly Mills and S Olivia Phillips, sister of Meredith Phillips.
Mills has 231 digs and is second in serve receiving (294) and service percentage (90.6). She also has contributed 21 aces. Olivia Phillips has 54 total blocks, 24 aces, 161 digs and, in ball handling, she leads the team with 792 assists — an average of 8.5 Ast/S.
Fishers HS pulled out a 5-set victory in the heated HCC and Mudsock showdown match on Sept. 7. HSE also lost to the Lady Tigers early in the season at the Kokomo Invite.
If successful this time, the Lady Royals would meet the Carmel-Noblesville winner in Round 2 at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
HSE defeated perennial power Carmel in 3 games in the season opener. They own a 3-1 win over Noblesville and a 3-0 decision over Westfield, which meets Anderson at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Lady Royals also defeated previously unbeaten No. 1, and nationally-ranked Zionsville 3-1 in HCC competition during HSE Seniors Night on Sept. 21. Big win, indeed, against the Lady Eagles, coached by former Carmel state-championship coach Rich Coleman.
In addition to Zionsville and Fishers HS, other high-ranked teams on HSE’s schedule included current No. 1 Yorktown. No. 3 Avon, No. 10 New Castle, Providence and McCutcheon.
“Our schedule is brutal. It has prepared us for what lies ahead,’’ Young said.
Make no mistake, the Lady Royals certainly are ‘battle tested’ for the tournament.
About the sectional, Young added: “The draw is the draw. We back down from no challenges. Honestly, we are excited about the opportunity to play Fishers again.’’
“Our motto all season has been . . . Win October . . . It starts Thursday.’’
Some other notable HSE statistics:
*—Senior Grace Cane led the way with 443 digs, was first in serve receiving (300), service assists (337), aces (36), and she also has a team-best 94.4 serve percentage . . . Junior Taylor Shelton and senior Kat Wagner each have 30 aces*—Taylor Shelton, a MH, has 271 kills, followed by Meredith Phillips (243). Shelton also leads in the Attacking category with 649 . . . Senior Lark Jones has 196 kills and a 48.6 kill percentage, and senior Bria King has 157 kills. The 6-2 Jones, the daughter of 1987 Marion HS co-Indiana Mr. Basketball Lyndon Jones, also has a team-high 84 blocks, including 76 assists, and she has 24 aces . . . Junior Ava Bacon has 154 assists and a 3.9 Ast/S average.
*—Mark Morrow, who has resided in Fishers since 1989, formerly owned Hamilton County Sports Daily. He was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters-Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 2015. He has blogged exclusively for hseroyalsathletics.com since 2016.