AKRON -– In the game program, she was listed as Gaggie Golic. By the end of the night, though, everyone inside the Akron Ellet gymnasium knew her true identity.
Brunswick middle hitter Gabrielle Bulic had a match-high nine kills and four blocks Friday, helping the Medina/Portage County volleyball team to a 25-23, 16-25, 25-23 victory over Summit/Lorain County in the annual District Senior All-Star Match.
“That was, by far, the worst misspelling I’ve ever seen for my name,” Bulic said, laughing. “I don’t even know how you come up with Gaggie, but whatever. I had a fun time anyways.”
Bulic’s teammates included Wadsworth setter Haley Beavers and Highland setter Alex Schuhle, both of whom also came up big in the decisive third game.
Beavers — playing the final match of her career — took the serve with her squad trailing 22-17. She promptly rifled off seven straight points, including one ace, to swing momentum toward Medina/Portage County.
Following an exchange of possessions, Kent Roosevelt outside hitter Alli Cudworth completed the big comeback with a kill, making co-coaches Brenda Ward of Mogadore Field and Jill Quayle of Wadsworth winners at the home of the Orangemen.
“Alli was really good and Anna (Zodesy of Akron Hoban) was a really nice setter to play with,” said Bulic, who signed her national letter of intent with the University of Michigan earlier in the week.
“Actually, everyone on the team was fun and really nice, and it wasn’t awkward at all for us to play together for the first time.”
Schuhle had two assists and one block in the finale, playing most of the time at outside hitter on a setter-laden roster.
Buckeye coach Craig Peterson piloted the Summit/Lorain team, which got great performances from Tallmadge’s Emma Mathieson, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Kacie Moore, and All-Star MVP Karissa McGrath of Elyria Catholic.
McGrath and Bulic finished in a 2-2 tie in voting for the MVP award, which was broken by a coin flip that Peterson successfully called.
“There were so many great players here, it was an honor to be on the court with them,” Black River outside hitter Megan Mey said. “It also was nice to play with the girls from the Patriot Athletic Conference, instead of going against them, like we have for the last four years.
“I knew Kady Whitsel (of Brookside) was an amazing setter, and Nikki Tuttle (of Keystone) and Shelby Kerstetter (of Brookside) were talented, but when you’re on the same team, it was like, ‘Wow! You’re really, really good.’”
Mey -— a member of the Lorain/Portage County squad that challenged Summit County in the opener — had the largest cheering section of any athlete from the 32 schools represented.
The majority of the Pirates’ team and their parents, along with coach Courtney Dieter, celebrated Black River’s breakthrough campaign by cheering on its all-time kill leader.
“I was part of Courtney’s first itty-bitty volleyball camp when I was in the third grade, so for everything to come full circle and have her here with me tonight means a lot,” said Mey, a first-team All-District honoree in Division III.
“I set a goal back then to be the best player I could be by the time I was a senior. Being chosen to play here shows me that all of the hard work was worth it.”
|Quayle was a late replacement for Streetsboro coach Bill Smerglia on the bench. She was slated to line judge with Brunswick coach Mande Pyzik, but Copley coach Chuck Musselman took her on-court spot.
l Pyzik took her job seriously, calling out two Bulic bombs that landed just beyond the end line.
l Highland coach Jeff McDivitt was also on hand, while Buckeye’s Janeen Calame volunteered to run the scoreboard.
l The matches were originally scheduled for Brunswick, but a resurfacing of its gym floor forced district secretary Mary Tarka to scramble for a new site. Ellet coach Jim Noall volunteered to host the event for the second straight season.
l Windham, Wadsworth and Highland are among the schools mulling a bid for next year’s showcase.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.