WADSWORTH — Leah McNutt authored the perfect ending for her final home match with the Wadsworth volleyball team.
The senior defensive specialist served the final six points, including an ace, as the Suburban League National Conference champion Grizzlies remained hot with a 25-16, 25-23, 25-14 victory over previously state-ranked Brecksville on Tuesday.
Wadsworth (20-1, 13-0) extended its Medina County-record winning streak to 20 and completed the second undefeated home season in school history at 10-0. It won 28-of-29 sets at home.
“All day I was thinking, ‘How am I going to leave this place for the final time tonight?’” McNutt said. “It wound up being one of the best moments I could have imagined, contributing to the team with those six points and being on the court at the end.”
McNutt not only served the last point, she subsequently made a dynamic dig and pass, which she sent to Lauren Conley, who fed Evelyn Haydu for the match-ending kill.
The Grizzlies became the 25th county team with 20 victories in a season, a record-breaking five of them under coach Jill Klingbeil. The previous mark of four was set by Jill Bouton of Highland.
“Once we got ahead in the first set, I felt like we were in control the rest of the night, even when it got close,” Klingbeil said. “If we play like this in the tournament, we’re going to put ourselves in a very good position.”
All-Ohio senior Kacie Evans and fellow outside hitter Haydu shared match-high honors with 16 kills for Wadsworth, which is ranked No. 11 in the OHSVCA Division I state poll. Conley led all players with 22 assists, while Lainey Beavers had 21.
Cornell recruit Joanna Chang paced the Bees (12-9, 8-5) with 13 kills, but was prevented from taking over the contest thanks to terrific defensive work by Wadsworth. The senior blasted 23 kills without a hitting error in the teams’ first meeting on Sept. 13.
Georgia recruit Evans, an AVC club volleyball teammate of Chang, led the back-row effort with 19 digs. Junior libero Lauren Zufra had 17 and senior Nicole Persone made 16.
“We come in respecting every team we play, but we also know what we’re capable of, so we’re confident, as well,” junior setter Conley said. “Tonight, it was all about making sure that our seniors won their last home game. I’m very proud they could do that.”
Outside hitter Becca Dunkle continued her late-season surge with seven kills and four blocks for the hosts. Middle hitters Erika Palidar and Sylvia Reynolds each had six kills as Wadsworth won the category 54-38.
The Grizzlies wind up the regular season Thursday at Hudson, which was the only foe to claim a set on their home floor. In addition to going 14-0 in the SL, also at stake for Wadsworth is the chance to tie the county record of 21 pre-postseason wins.
“Our confidence is high, even when we’re playing in another gym,” McNutt said. “It’s been a long season and it will be our 22nd match, but we’re planning on keeping it going.”