By Mark Ambrogi
Center Grove junior volleyball player Sophia Sabol is definitely a crowd pleaser.
“She is your ultimate competitor and wants to be great daily,” said Center Grove coach Jennifer Hawk. “She has the level of drive and resiliency any coach would love to have. Sophie is a quiet leader on the court and just lets her grit and passion do the talking. She’s a smaller, feisty attacker who brings fire and emotion to the court. She’s fun to watch and gets a crowd to pay attention to her. Her vision and court awareness are at a very high level that I believe has improved with increased time playing beach volleyball. I have truly enjoyed coaching her these past two seasons.”
The outside hitter/defensive specialist’s fiery nature comes from her father, Josh Sabol, who resigned to spend more time with his two daughters after leading Franklin Community High School girls basketball team to the Class 4A state championship game before losing to Noblesville.
“He was always having conversations with me about attitude and body language and how I present myself,” Sabol said. “With him coaching basketball and having that great last season, my name is going to be known. I want to carry myself in a way that is contagious to other people.”
Sabol also is passionate about lifting weights and posted a video of her front squatting from summer weights in 2021.
“A coach in the area contacted my dad and said he wanted to get me to train,” Sabol said. “After I lost in regionals in volleyball my sophomore year, I went in there and showed interest. I qualified for nationals and ended up winning my age group.”
Sabol won her division in the USA Powerlifting High School and Teen Nationals in March in Lombard, Ill. The categories are squat, bench and deadlift.
“When I got in the weight room, I realized how much it improved my volleyball and beach volleyball game,” Sabol said. “Powerlifting really helped me build my vertical (jump) and made me powerful because it’s so much harder to move in the sand. My height was a disadvantage, and now I almost use it to my advantage. I’m pretty short for an outside hitter.”
For the Trojans, she was third on the team with 2.2 kills per set, second on the team with 2.8 digs per set and second in aces with 30 this past season.
“This was definitely my best season because I really got to show off all the different skills that I have,” she said. “(As a sophomore) I was put in a new position and took advantage of that. I was able to use that experience under my belt to make me a more all-around player. This year a new position opened up and I showed I really wanted that spot.”
This will be Sabol’s first season not doing club volleyball for Circle City Volleyball Club.
“This is the first year I’ve been all in for beach volleyball because that’s what I want to do in college,” she said.
Sabol began her beach volleyball season after Center Grove’s season ended.
She trains at indoor beach volleyball courts in Westfield and Sheridan during the week and then goes to Cincinnati on Sundays for a big group training. She will play in a tournament in Clearwater, Fla., over Thanksgiving break.
Sabol said in the college three-person beach game, blockers are 6-foot or taller, the defender is usually shorter players, and the split is one who does both.
“I’ve worked my way from defender to a split after powerlifting,” she said. “It’s more variety and what schools would rather see that you can do both.”
Sabol never shared her father’s love for basketball.
“I started basketball up until middle school,” Sabol said. “It really just wasn’t my thing, That led me into volleyball.”
Sabol’s younger sister, Suri, a seventh grader, plays basketball, volleyball and throws the shot put and discus.
THE SABOL FILE
POSITION: Outside hitter/defensive specialist
HOBBIES: Competitive powerlifting, running and hanging out with friends
FAVORITE SUBJECT: Weights
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Manifest”
FAVORITE ATHLETE: Kristen Nuss (AVP pro beach volleyball player)
PARENTS: Molly and Josh Sabol