June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

All-Gazette volleyball: Booth has love of the game

Basketball has played a huge part in Peyton Booth’s life since the day she was born.

It also will largely define her next four years at the University of New Hampshire.

Wadsworth senior Peyton Booth is the 2013 Gazette MVP for volleyball. (GAZETTE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RON SCHWANE)

Each autumn, though, volleyball has been her passion since she began playing it in the seventh grade.

“I really only came out for the team because I thought that volleyball was fun, and it was something to do in the fall,” the Wadsworth senior said. “Little did I know that I would fall in love with the game.”

Not only did Booth fall in love with the game, she became great at it.

The 5-foot-9 outside hitter played four varsity seasons with the Grizzlies, firing more kills per game than anyone in school history while going an unprecedented 56-0 in Suburban League matches.

As a senior, Booth led Medina County with 277 kills and a 3.46 average per game — and powered Wadsworth to its second straight trip to the Hudson Division I Regional — to decisively earn Gazette MVP.

“The best way I would describe Peyton is she is a basketball player who loves to play volleyball,” Grizzlies coach Jill Klingbeil said. “And the awesome part about it is she is equally talented in both sports.

“She’s going to play NCAA Division I college basketball, but she also could have had a great run as a college volleyball player. I can’t say enough good things about her.”

Neither could coaches throughout the area, who made her the third-leading vote-getter for district player of the year honors.

Booth also earned All-Ohio third-team recognition from the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association, along with All-Suburban League status for the third straight season.

Perhaps her most impressive accomplishment in 2013, though, was becoming the first player in county history to amass 277 kills, 271 digs and 299 service attempts in a season.

“I think being able to move quick laterally on defense in basketball allowed me to pick up a lot of balls this season,” Booth said. “In turn, I believe that my hand-eye coordination from hitting a volleyball has helped me to be a better shot blocker.

“The speed that both of our teams play at Wadsworth also makes it easy to go from one sport to another.”

Booth rung up 16 double-digit kill performances in 26 matches as the Grizzlies became just the second county squad to win back-to-back district championships.

Firing away from her sweet spot on the right side of the net, she averaged a team-high 11.8 kills in four tournament matches, including 16 in the Barberton District final against Medina.

“Peyton is a force at the net, and her ability to read the court and place the ball where it needed to be is outstanding,” Bees coach Connie Daum said. “Teams needed to be ready for anything from her because she had a great ability to place the ball where their players were not.”

Booth’s hot stretch actually began in the final match of the regular season, when she joined fellow seniors Ciera Koons, Madison Gilger, Andrea Beavers and Erin Zita to complete their careers without a loss in the league.

With Booth leading the way with a season-high 21 kills, Wadsworth edged Revere in five games to extend its SL winning streak to 57. The Grizzlies finished with a 22-4 record, and its seniors became the first class in county history to win 20 matches four times.

“Beating Revere at Revere in five games was the most memorable moment of my season and my career,” the daughter of Wadsworth girls basketball coach Andrew Booth said. “All of our seniors were such fantastic leaders in their own way, and I loved going through my career as part of that group.

“It was such an intense and exciting match and such a great win. Knowing we officially went undefeated in the league all four years was incredible.”

Unfortunately, all sports stories do not have a happy ending as the Grizzlies fell two wins short of their ultimate goal of reaching the state tournament in Dayton.

Though Booth and Koons, in particular, did a great job of preparing their younger charges, Wadsworth simply didn’t have a good night in the regional semifinals against the host Explorers.

The Grizzlies’ season ended in unexpectedly quick fashion, leaving a bittersweet feeling that lingers to this day.

“I wanted to extend this season as far as it could go because of this great group of girls,” Booth said. “We had an amazing four years, really, but I regret taking some the day-to-day activities for granted and not being able to make a trip down to Dayton.

“I wish I had another season to spend with them and to play more volleyball.”

Though Klingbeil also wishes she could keep her seniors for one more year, she is grateful that Booth left absolutely everything she had on the volleyball court.

“Peyton knew these were her final days in organized volleyball, so she took charge and made things happen,” Klingbeil said. “She shouldn’t have any regrets, only pride about the way she played, just like the rest of us do when we think about her.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.