HUDSON: Wadsworth volleyball coach Jill Klingbeil wouldn’t go so far as to call it “revenge,” but it sure felt sweet.
The Grizzlies (15-10) upset Hudson (21-4) in a five-set rematch of last year’s Division I regional semifinal, which was won by Hudson.
“It feels awesome to win,” Klingbeil said. “We’re going on to the regional final for the first time since 2006.”
The Grizzlies had lost in the regional semifinals the past two years, but they were able to shake that and come away with a win.
It wasn’t easy.
The Grizzlies took the first set 25-23, but they needed to score 18 of the last 28 points to win. This became something of a theme for the Grizzlies. They would get behind, and just when it seemed time to write them off, they’d give everyone a reason to not.
“They’re just fighters,” Klingbeil said. “I’ve got to give it to them. They just wanted it. I don’t know if it was being the underdog coming in, but they had it in them tonight.”
Junior Jodi Johnson led the Grizzlies with 16 kills and 18 digs.
“The key to getting Jodi the ball is the pass and the set,” Klingbeil said. “And both of those things were there tonight and it came through.”
Hudson battled back by cruising to a 25-13 victory in the second set, looking like the team that knocked off the Grizzlies last year and was favored to win again this year.
Hudson was led by the ferocious attack of the 6-foot-1 Jordan Mackay, who led the Explorers with 17 kills.
But as the game went on, the Grizzlies began to neutralize Mackay with their defense, led by Olivia Chaney’s 10 blocks and Jenna Johnson’s 16 digs.
“We dug very, very well,” Klingbeil said. “We blocked very well. I’m just very proud of how we played. That’s volleyball. Sometimes it goes back-and-forth, I’m just glad we ended up on top.”
Wadsworth got back ahead with an electric 26-24 victory in the third set, capped off by two big blocks by Chaney to tie at 24-24 and take the lead at 25-24.
Hudson wouldn’t go away, winning the fourth set 25-18 on kills by Mackay and Alena Madar.
But in the end, it was a staunch Wadsworth defense and an offense that exploited Hudson’s weaknesses that determined who would advance to the regional final.
“We couldn’t pick up tips, we couldn’t run our offense in transition off tips,” Hudson coach Jessica Ciborek said. “That’s what killed us. If I was her, I would tip-and-roll on us all day, too.”
The Grizzlies took a 14-12 lead in the final set, but a kill by Mackay tightened the score to 14-13 and gave the serve to Hudson. But Alyssa Disandis’ serve went long, and the Grizzlies’ celebration on the Explorers’ home court began.
“I just think tonight was a hard-fought game,” Klingbeil said. “I really respect Hudson. They have some excellent players who gave it everything they had and it came down to two points.”
August Fagerstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/blogs/preps. Follow August on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AugustF_ABJ.