BROADVIEW HTS. — Kacie Evans added another epic performance to her remarkable volleyball resume Thursday night.
The two-time Gazette MVP and University of Georgia recruit unleashed a season-high 32 kills as Wadsworth outlasted Brecksville 23-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-17 to remain in sole possession of first place in the Suburban League National Conference.
The Grizzlies (9-1, 6-0), who have won nine in a row, hold a one-game lead in the conference over Stow. The Bees (6-3, 4-2) dropped two back despite taking a 9-1 lead in the fourth set before Evans exploded for 11 kills and seven service points to end the match in style.
“We’re the only undefeated team in the league and we want to keep it that way,” she said. “Brecksville won the state championship two years ago and went to the regional finals last year, so we knew this wasn’t going to be easy tonight. They have a very dynamic team, but everyone pulled together and we found a way to win.”
Evans had eight kills in the first, seven in the second and six in the third en route to the second-highest total in Wadsworth history. The 6-footer now owns the school’s top four performances, topped by a record 33 on Aug. 31, 2017, in a five-set win over Stow.
As if that weren’t enough, Evans made 18 digs and two blocks as part of a tremendous duel with Cornell recruit and AVC club teammate Joanna Chang, who fired 23 kills without committing a hitting error.
“Kacie is a great player and a great person,” Chang said of her fellow senior outside hitter. “Playing with her is a lot of fun and playing against her is a friendly rivalry that we both enjoy.”
Junior outside hitter Evelyn Haydu complemented Evans with a career-high 19 kills and sophomore setter Lainey Beavers had 27 assists for the Grizzlies, who are ranked eighth in the OHSVCA Division I state poll.
Erika Palidar had six kills and three blocks, and Sylvia Reynolds added four kills and six rejections for the Grizzlies. Lauren Zufra made 26 digs and Lauren Conley had 26 assists.
While Evans provided the power, senior Nicole Persone gave Wadsworth a huge boost off the bench. The Italian exchange student was called upon in the second set to shore up what had been a very leaky back row.
Persone did her job very well, posting seven digs, more than a dozen quality passes, three service runs, an ace and her first three assists.
“I wasn’t afraid, but I was a little nervous when I went in at first,” she said. “It didn’t last long, though, because the team is very close here and everyone supports each other.”
Persone said she did experience one minor problem during the intense second and third sets.
“It was difficult because I wanted to speak Italian,” she said, laughing.
A smiling Evans interrupted, saying, “We are learning some Italian because of Nicole, but we’re not quite there yet.”