WADSWORTH — The Amherst Steele volleyball team delivered a wake-up call to Wadsworth and Brunswick on Saturday morning.
The Comets swept the Grizzlies 25-13, 25-22 and Blue Devils 25-23, 25-19 to claim top honors at the annual Wadsworth Triangular. The host Grizzlies beat Brunswick 25-11, 25-14 in the other match to earn second place.
“Amherst is a very good team having a very good season, but unfortunately, we did not come out and play our game against them at all,” Wadsworth coach Jill Klingbeil said.
“It’s disappointing, but hopefully, we’ll learn a lesson from this. You can’t just show up against a good team and expect to win. You have to play hard right away.”
The Grizzlies (8-3) did just that in opening the event against fellow 2012 regional qualifier Brunswick (3-5). Wadsworth won last year’s Barberton Division I District championship, while the Blue Devils claimed the Midview District.
The Grizzlies barely broke a sweat in winning the first game, as sophomore outside hitter Jodi Johnson and senior outside hitter Peyton Booth each had more kills than the four posted by the entire Blue Devils team.
In the second game, the Blue Devils took a 3-0 lead behind senior setter Megan Anderson (4 kills, 5 assists), but Wadsworth senior middle hitters Ciera Koons (6 kills, 3 blocks) and Madison Gilger (4 kills, 4 blocks) overpowered them the rest of the way.
Johnson finished with a match-high seven kills and 12 digs, while Booth had six kills as the Grizzlies won the category 28-15 and outblocked Brunswick 12-4.
“We were all really pumped up to play Brunswick because they’ve been really good the last couple of years,” Koons said. “For being a sophomore, Jodi really stepped up and played great. Everyone can see how well she hits and digs, but her biggest quality is her heart.”
The Comets (8-2) — a perennial regional contender under coach Laurie Cogan — imposed their will on Wadsworth from the start. They never trailed en route to a
12-point win in the first game behind sophomore outside hitter Ashley Makruski and senior setter Riley Schenk.
The Grizzlies took a 6-1 lead in the second, then pulled back in front at 22-21 on a Booth kill and Koons ace.
However, Makruski (10 kills, 3 blocks) and senior middle hitter Mallory Sliman (9 kills) answered with a 4-0 match-ending run for Amherst, leaving Wadsworth and its fans in stunned silence. Booth finished with a match-high 18 digs, while Koons collected six kills and an event-high seven rejections.
“Honestly, we came out too relaxed because we had the wrong attitude,” tri-captain Koons said. “We didn’t think they were going to come into our gym and beat us. We did fight back, but we fought back way too late.”
The Blue Devils showed plenty of fight against Amherst, who they beat in the district semifinals last fall, but still squandered a 23-20 lead in the first game by allowing five straight points.
Sophomore outside hitter Gina Yurik (7 kills, 6 aces) staked Brunswick to a 6-2 lead in the second by firing three aces, while sophomore middle hitter Julia Holden (6 kills, 4 blocks) bounced back with a solid performance.
Errors, though, doomed the Blue Devils as they made 28 against the Comets. On the day, Brunswick committed 50 miscues to just 23 by their opponents.
“We’re growing, that’s all I can tell you,” said Blue Devils coach Mande Pyzik, whose squad was two days removed from an emotional five-game loss to Medina. “We’ve got to believe in ourselves. Until the girls start doing that — because we believe in them as coaches — we’re going to continue to struggle.”
The kill leader at the event was Makruski with 15, while teammate Sliman had 13. Koons and Johnson each had 12, and Booth made 10 for the Grizzlies. Anderson and Yurik led the Blue Devils with nine apiece.
• Schenk was the top setter with 30 assists. Wadsworth juniors Maria Sansonetti (19) and Rachel Pressley (16) were next in line. Anderson had 16, while Brunswick sophomore Erika Overton dished out 14.
• The leading blocker was two-time reigning Medina County champion Koons with 10. Holden made five and Sliman had four.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.