BARBERTON: The Wadsworth girls are district volleyball champions for a second straight year.
Fueled by ferocious defensive play, the Grizzlies defeated Medina 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-16 in a Division I final Thursday night at Barberton High School.
“It’s an amazing honor,” Wadsworth senior middle hitter Ciera Koons said. “Being on this team with these amazing girls, I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
All five Wadsworth seniors — Andrea Beavers, Peyton Booth, Madison Gilger, Erin Zita and Koons — made major contributions to the victory.
“Our seniors are huge leaders on this team,” said Wadsworth sophomore Jodi Johnson, who collected team-high numbers of 18 kills and 37 digs. “They get us pumped and give us the confidence we need.”
That leadership was demonstrated after Medina had rallied to win the third set, and pulled to within 2-1. Wadsworth coach Jill Klingbeil also reminded her team what had been working well in the first two sets.
“We were up 2-1 because of our aggressive play,” Klingbeil said. “So, I told them to stay aggressive and keep going after the ball. When you get down in the third set you just can’t ease up. You have to go even harder.”
Wadsworth’s fourth-year coach has guided the Grizzlies to four straight Suburban League championships and nodded yes when asked if blocking is a key to her team’s success.
“In the third set when we didn’t block, I think our defense actually did a good job picking it up,” Klingbeil said. “We just had a little rough run, and in the fourth set we were able to block and play defense, and that combination helped us win the fourth set.”
Koons and Gilger were Wadsworth’s block leaders with 10 and nine, respectively. Koons is committed to Eastern Kentucky University.
Up 1-0, and leading 14-8 in the second game, the Grizzlies had an impressive sequence when Booth pulled off a pancake dig and then Koons and Gilger teamed up for the block.
“It kind of set the tone for how we were going to play the rest of the match,” Klingbeil said.
Booth was especially strong in the second game, blasting six kills, including a back-row kill to close out the set 25-17.
The 5-foot-10 outside hitter has been a member of five district championship teams at Wadsworth (three basketball, two volleyball) and is headed to the University of New Hampshire on a basketball scholarship.
“I love my teammates on both of my teams, and I have so much fun in both sports,” she said.
The Grizzlies (22-3) gave up a 9-5 lead in the third set and lost, but jumped out 6-0 in the fourth set and led by at least three points the rest of the way, winning 25-16.
“This one hurts, but we’re going to remember this for next year, and we’re going to come back strong next year,” Medina coach Connie Daum said. “Wadsworth is a good team. They have a chance of being state champs, and I hope they are.”
Senior Ksenia Klue (18 digs, 12 kills) and junior Jess Sency (17 digs, nine kills) were statistical leaders for Medina (13-10). Junior setter Ashley Pavlescak had 26 assists and 15 digs.
Johnson’s dig total is one of the best on record at Wadsworth. Booth finished with 23 digs and 13 kills. Zita had 23 digs and junior setter Rachel Pressley has 26 assists for the Grizzlies.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.