With the fall sports season coming to a close, Hancock County cross-country and volleyball teams are in for a big weekend. Saturday morning, volleyball sectional semifinals kick off, as well as cross-country semistates around the state. In the evening, a volleyball sectional champion, potentially from the area, will be crowned.

She’s cooking

With a fifth-place finish (19:31, personal record) at the Rushville Regional last weekend, Greenfield-Central sophomore Sydney Cook became just the second girl in school history to qualify for semistate. Cook is the first girl to qualify for semistate since the course changed to a 5k in 2007.

The sophomore was just 43 seconds behind Warren Central’s Jamie Wells, who took the regional title in 18:48.

Cook won the Hancock County meet earlier this season for the first time in her young career and finished eighth overall at the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet (20:27). At the sectional two weeks ago, she finished 13th in 21:13.

However, in order to advance to the state meet Oct. 31, Cook cannot afford to add any extra time Saturday in a highly-competitive Carmel Semistate. Only the top-10 individuals, without a team, will advance. The top six scoring teams will also move on.

No. 1 Carmel, No. 5 Zionsville and No. 7 Cathedral will all be in attendance Saturday.

Chasing state

Mt. Vernon’s Christian Noble continues to dominate on the cross-country course this postseason.

Noble won his third regional title in as many years Saturday at the Delta Regional while breaking a 32-year-old school record. His personal best time of 14:55 was the fastest regional time in the state and second fastest all season.

Noble only lost one event this year but was never been able to break 15 minutes, until Saturday. And there’s still fuel in the tank.

His previous best time in 2015 was 15:19.

Greenfield-Central senior Zach Bishop, who led his team to its first regional crown last Saturday, finished second overall at the Rushville Regional in 16:03 and hopes to improve this weekend in Carmel.

Bishop likely will need to get under 16 minutes for the first time in his career to advance to the state finals.

Up for grabs

With volleyball powerhouse Yorktown out of the Class 4A picture this season, the New Castle Volleyball Sectional 9 is wide open. The Tigers, which are ranked No. 11 in the country, moved down to 3A this season due to the tournament success factor, leaving this year’s field without a clear-cut favorite.

No. 16 Mt. Vernon (27-4) appears to be the first choice on paper, but as head coach Eric Bulmahn eluded to, rankings mean little come tournament time.

Two capable squads in New Castle (19-15) and Greenfield-Central (19-11) stand in their way.

The Marauders beat both teams 3-0 earlier this season.

Junior Jaclyn Bulmahn and senior Mary Grace Ertel will be key if the team wants to win its first sectional championship since repeating during 2009-10 seasons. Bulmahn has registered 433 kills this season while Ertel has contributed 323.

Junior libero Julia Wayer (485 digs) leads the defensive attack as sophomore Meridan Eads (560 assists) has been reliable at setter.