State-bound Perrysburg sweeps Highland

By J. Patrick Eaken [email protected]

NORWALK — Perrysburg volleyball is heading to the Division I state final four after sweeping Medina Highland, 25-13, 25-20, 26-24, in a regional final Saturday at Norwalk High School.

“It’s awesome,” said Perrysburg senior outside hitter Sara Pahl. “We’ve been working hard since this summer, in June. We put our blood, sweat and tears in this and its awesome how things paid off.”

The smallest hitter on the court, 5-foot-6 Perrysburg senior Josie Hubbard, led the Jackets with 14 kills, Sara Pahl had six kills and two aces, and freshman right side hitter Katie Pahl had six kills, two aces and two blocks.

Perrysburg junior middle blocker Wrigley Takats, easily the tallest player on the court at over 6-feet, had four kills, three aces and one block.

However, Perrysburg’s passing and defense behind senior setter Giana Frayer and senior libero Avery Adamski was flawless. Both are school record holders — Frayer in assists and Adamski in digs.

Adamski, the Northern Lakes League Player of the Year as a junior who is headed on scholarship to play at the University of Toledo, is a big reason that opponents do not always score on potential kill shots.

“People know that she’s a weapon for us,” Perrysburg coach Laura Davidson said. “She’s back there, she’s kind of a quiet leader in the back row, but on the court, everybody knows that she is going to do her job.

“She motivates the kids to do better, and she knows she must do her job. I know she has been thinking about this since she was a little kid, to get to state, so I know she’s been kind of calm and quiet to keep pushing her teammates.”

Calm and quiet, yes, but Adamski does know her role well.

“I’m a competitor. I love to win. I want to win for my team,” Adamski said.

“If that means I must do my job, I’m doing my job. I don’t care about the credit or the statistics or any of that. I just want to win with my team, play with my team and that’s what matters the most.”

Adamski says most fulfilling is digging out an opponent’s shot, and then after a pass seeing that translate into a kill by one of her teammates in the front row.

“I love all my hitters,” Adamski said. “All of them have put in so much work every day, jumping around doing their job.

“We all do our jobs and that is how we get the wins. It’s a credit to everybody on my team. We all work hard.”

Unranked Highland sees its season end at 23-4. Perrysburg, 21-6, faces Rocky River Magnificat (25-2), which defeated Massillon Jackson (26-1), 25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 25-15, in a regional final in Hudson, Ohio Saturday.

All four teams headed to state are ranked in the final coaches’ poll, and Adamski is looking forward to the challenge before finally heading off next year to play NCAA Division I collegiate volleyball.

“It means a lot to be able to play with my best friends for at least one more game,” Adamski said. “It means the world, especially my senior year, and I can’t be happier that we get to keep going on in the tournament.”

No. 14 Perrysburg and No. 2 Magnificat will face off in a state semifinal at Wright State University’s Nutter Center in Dayton at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11.

The winner faces the No. 8 Columbus Bishop Watterson (21-6)-No. 1 Cincinnati Ursuline (22-3) winner for the state championship on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m.

Perrysburg’s last trip to the state tournament was in 2006, but in 1981 the Yellow Jackets finished as state runner-up and the 1979 team won a state championship.

The Yellow Jackets, the Northern Lakes League co-champs, have five losses this year to Amherst Steele, Cleveland St. Joseph, Springfield, Sylvania Northview, and Lake.

Pahl says playing those teams in the regular season was good preparation for what is ahead.

“We play good teams because we knew that we would play good teams in the tournament,” Pahl said. “Playing good teams has taught us how to beat those teams.”

Davidson said those losses helped her team grow, too.

“We obviously lost to some great teams. I think it is our team’s ability to say we have to regroup, and we have to do something better,” Davidson said.

“How are we going to get better? So, every time we lost, we took it and we tried to push ourselves to figure out how we could get better as a team.”

Steele was the team Highland defeated in the regional semifinals to play Perrysburg. Davidson said the Yellow Jackets were well-prepared for the Hornets Saturday.

“We watched film on them, and we knew where they were going,” Davdison said. “Obviously, No. 12 (5-11 senior outside hitter Alayna Tessena) is a great hitter for them, and we knew we had to camp on her.

“We wanted to take them out with their serves, which we did, so they were unable to set as much of their offense as they wanted to.

“But we knew where they were going, and our defense was there. We shut them out down the line, which is how they beat Amherst, so we got to thank that on scouting.”

For Highland, Tessena finished with 15 kills and six blocks Saturday, junior outside hitter Izzy Shank had five kills and senior Calee Angus had four blocks.