WADSWORTH — Andrea Beavers, Peyton Booth, Madison Gilger, Ciera Koons and Erin Zita began their volleyball careers at Wadsworth in 2010.
That season also marked the debut of Jill Quayle Klingbeil as the coach of the Grizzlies and the beginning of a championship run that continued on Tuesday night.
Booth fired a match-high 16 kills and Koons collected 13 kills and eight blocks as Wadsworth clinched its fourth straight outright Suburban League championship with a 26-24, 25-22, 25-15 victory over Highland.
The Grizzlies (18-3, 13-0) are the first team in Medina County history to claim four consecutive conference titles and have won an incredible 56 straight SL matches.
“We came into the program with Coach Quayle and truly have built a legacy together,” said middle hitter Gilger, who had seven kills and three blocks. “We’re not one of those schools that have a ton of Division I college players to carry them each year.
“Everything we’ve accomplished is because of hard work and teamwork. We wouldn’t want it any other way because that makes it mean so much more.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jodi Johnson added nine kills and junior setter Rachel Pressley dished out a match-high 18 assists for Wadsworth, which can complete its fourth perfect SL season in a row by beating Revere on Thursday.
“Our motto all year has been, ‘Talent won’t take you anywhere without your teammates,”’ said libero Zita, who made a match-high 26 digs. “We put in a long summer of work and we’ve continued to go hard every day at practice because we play for each other.
“We’re all best friends and this team is like our second family. That’s why we play with a never-quit mentality, because we want to do great things as a group.”
Making the Grizzlies’ fourth straight SL crown even sweeter, they earned the banner on senior night by beating one of the hottest squads in Northeast Ohio.
Junior middle hitter Mallory Adams had 10 kills and five blocks for Highland (14-7, 9-4), which entered with a seven-match winning streak — equaling its longest run since rally scoring began in 2004.
Both schools also brought sizeable student sections, creating a fun environment for Wadsworth’s final home contest.
“This was truly perfect the way everything came together tonight,” said middle hitter Beavers, who had three kills and three blocks. “It felt like the culmination of our four years here because it was a total team win, just like so many of them. It was wonderful sharing it with our family and friends.”
The Hornets came out strong and threatened to spoil the occasion behind strong opening games from Adams, senior outside hitter Tori Maglione and junior setter Nikki Tecco. An Adams rocket down the middle gave Highland a 24-23 lead, prompting Klingbeil to call her second timeout.
The strategy worked, as Wadsworth scored three unanswered points to win the game, wrapping it up with back-to-back kills by Beavers and Gilger.
The Hornets also took a four-point lead in the second game before Booth gave the Grizzlies the lead for good at 14-13 with consecutive kills. Gilger also delivered the game-winning kill, but from the opposite end of the net, which appeared to take the steam out of Highland for good.
“Wadsworth is a great competitor of ours and has a great team,” said Tecco, who led the Hornets with 15 assists. “But I thought we showed a lot of improvement in stepping up compared to the way we played against them last time (a decisive three-game loss on September 12).”
Maglione chipped in eight kills and three rejections, senior libero Paige Tanzer had 22 digs and two aces and Madison Shearer and Morgan Kasolunes added four kills apiece for the Hornets.
“Highland played a great match and their libero was everywhere tonight,” Klingbeil said. “They’re really improved since the last time we met, and I expect them to do very well in the tournament.”
The Grizzlies have won 10 straight matches and are the No. 1 seed at the upcoming Barberton Division I District. Wadsworth also is the defending district champion and advanced to the 2012 Hudson Regional semifinals.
Highland’s seven-match winning streak was its longest since Sept. 18-27, 2008, when it won seven in a row under then-rookie coach Quayle. The Hornets are the No. 3 seed at Barberton and are on the opposite side of the bracket from the Grizzlies
• Wadsworth senior Becca Habig delivered a professional-quality rendition of the national anthem.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.