October 31, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
43°F

Johnson and Koons help Grizzlies extend SL win streak

Wadsworth's Rachel Pressley sets against Highland during game 1. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Brian Dulik

The Gazette

GRANGER TWP. — None of the players on Wadsworth’s volleyball team have ever lost a Suburban League match.

The Grizzlies made sure that didn’t change Thursday night.

Sophomore outside hitter Jodi Johnson fired a match-high 12 kills and made a team-best 12 digs, leading Wadsworth to a 25-17, 25-23, 25-15 sweep of Highland in SL action.

The Grizzlies (10-3, 6-0) have won 49 straight conference contests dating back to Oct. 15, 2009. That incredible streak will be on the line Tuesday when Wadsworth hosts undefeated Revere.

“It’s always in the back of your mind, but we respect everyone that we play in the SL,” said Johnson, an All-Gazette honorable mention selection last fall. “We know that we have to come ready to play every game because we know everyone will be at their best against us. That’s going to be especially true with Revere.”

Though the Hornets (7-4, 3-3) are having a fine season and won the eight-team Avon Invitational over the weekend, they were outplayed from the opening point by their Medina County rival.

Wadsworth senior middle hitter Ciera Koons collected four kills, three blocks and a match-high four aces, while senior outside hitter Peyton Booth added five kills and six digs. Another 12th-grader, middle hitter Andrea Beavers, had six kills and two rejections.

“I’m proud of the way the girls played tonight, especially the way they pulled out the second game,” Wadsworth coach Jill Klingbeil said. “Highland had the momentum, but they stuck it out and got the win.”

The second game was a see-saw battle that saw Johnson trade blasts with Highland junior middle hitter Mallory Adams. Johnson had five kills in the game, while Adams collected four kills and four blocks.

Adams delivered back-to-back block/kills to cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 24-21, while Hornets junior setter Nikki Tecco made a tremendous save in front of the scorer’s table that allowed the hosts to pull within 24-23.

Wadsworth, however, won the game on one of Highland’s 33 unforced errors. The Hornets had 15 miscues in the first game, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

“Mental focus and overall skill consistency have been a problem for us this week,” Highland coach Jeff McDivitt said. “The team I saw at Avon was not the team I saw tonight.”

Koons scored seven straight points, including three aces, in the third game to put the Grizzlies ahead 11-4.

Adams tried to keep the Hornets close — adding to her match totals of 10 kills and five blocks — but they were kept at bay by Johnson, senior middle hitter Madison Gilger and sophomore outside hitter Haley Witschey on key plays.

“Adams hits very hard and came up with some big blocks that put us on our heels,” Klingbeil said. “Give Highland credit. I also thought (Tecco) played very well running their offense.”

Tecco dished out a team-high 11 assists without an unforced error, which prompted McDivitt to say, “Nikki’s setting was phenomenal.”

Junior outside hitter Allie Branco and senior outside hitter Tori Maglione had five kills apiece for the Hornets, while junior outside hitter Angel Redman made 14 digs.

Wadsworth used a season-high 13 players, including a trio of setters and liberos as Klingbeil continues to try different combinations based on the style of the opponent.

Junior Maria Sansonetti (14 assists), junior Rachel Pressley (7 assists) and freshman Sophia Chirumobole (5 assists) each set, while sophomore Jenna Johnson, senior Erin Zita and junior Olivia Fortner played libero. Junior Jenna Oplinger also saw time at defensive specialist.

“All of those girls are talented in different respects, so we do what we have to do to win each game,” Klingbeil said. “We’ve got so much depth at Wadsworth, it’s important to use it to our advantage.”

Notes

The Hornets debuted their new home uniforms. Unfortunately, the numbers worn by seven of their players didn’t match the roster fans received at the gate.l Highland sophomore outside hitter Sam Catron made her first varsity start.

l The Grizzlies also won the junior varsity match, beating Highland in two games. Wadsworth coach Aimey (Reynolds) Capotosta is a former Gazette MVP in the sport.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.