BRUNSWICK — The tournament begins in less than three weeks. Brunswick’s volleyball team understands that now is the time to prepare for the postseason.
The three-time defending district champion began its playoff push with an impressive win on Tuesday night.
All-Gazette outside hitter Kirsten Badowski fired a match-high 17 kills and All-Gazette libero Rachael Crucis made 19 digs in leading the Blue Devils to a 25-17, 25-17, 28-26 sweep of Medina in Greater Cleveland Conference action.
“We’ve taken a lot of losses that we shouldn’t have this season, so coming out of our slump tonight was very important,” Badowski said. “It felt good to be smiling and having fun on the court, really just becoming the real Brunswick team again.”
Senior middle hitter Maddy Neitzel collected eight kills and five blocks, and junior middle hitter Anna Krizsa had eight kills for the Blue Devils. Junior outside hitter Cassie Burson set career highs with seven kills and four rejections, and sophomore middle hitter Ashli Holden had five kills and four blocks.
“Ashli and I definitely felt the pressure because we knew blocking would be a vital part of winning this match,” Burson said. “It felt so good to be a part of this huge team win.”
Brunswick (6-9, 4-5) snapped a two-match losing streak and earned a split of its season series with the Bees (9-7, 4-5). It is very possible that they will meet for a third time at the Strongsville Division I District, where the host Mustangs are heavy favorites.
“We’re coming back for revenge in the second half of the year,” said Crucis, who added four assists and three aces. “This is just the start. (Neitzel) was hurt the first time we played Medina, and she wanted this win so bad. We all did after losing to them before.”
Bees junior setter Ashley Dwyer was rock-solid in dishing out a match-high 20 assists. Senior libero Anna Coughlin had three aces, senior outside hitter Alyssa Hudak had nine kills and junior middle hitter Stephanie Flamik collected six kills and four blocks.
Medina was on the verge of extending the match, leading 24-19 in the third before squandering five game points. Blue Devils senior defensive specialist Kayla Coughlin tied the score with five service points, which set the stage for a later match-ending ace by junior Peyton Futchko.
Futchko had 16 assists and three aces in her first appearance as a setter, while freshman outside hitter Mia Beckler had 13 assists in her varsity debut at the position. Junior Annie Cupach, the full-time starting setter, was sidelined with a concussion.
“(Futchko) and (Beckler) were so nervous, which is understandable, and we wanted to do what we could to make it easier for them,” Badowski said. “The same was true with (Holden) and (Burson). They’ve been insanely pushed in practice to be blockers, and they were big tonight in helping us to our most blocks (18) all year.”
Bees freshman Sarah Smith made her initial start at middle hitter, filling in for sophomore Taylor Wise, who has a sprained wrist. Medina is 1-5 since Sept. 7.
“We are what we are right now,” Bees coach Joe Ortenzi said. “I just want us to get back on track as fast as possible and be healthy for the playoffs.”
- Former Brunswick setter Megan Anderson — now a member of Ohio State’s Big Ten championship women’s rowing team — was in attendance.
- The Blue Devils celebrated youth volleyball night by inviting all Brunswick and St. Ambrose players to the match.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @BrianDulik on Twitter.