Ella Cutright
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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Unioto awakens, ousts Logan Elm in four sets

After an early setback, Unioto bounces back to win its season opener.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

TARLTON — At one point Tuesday evening, Unioto coach Jimmy Hutton looked over at his longtime assistant coach Paul Tanedo and said, “Our girls didn’t show up tonight.”

He couldn’t have been more wrong. The Shermans indeed showed up … they just made a late entrance.

Unioto’s Jade Stewart (8) celebrates with teammates, including Emma Specht (left) during the Shermans’ four-set win over Logan Elm on Tuesday.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

At the time, Hutton’s statement was spot on. Unioto had just dropped the first set by a 25-15 final and looked disengaged throughout it. But that’s when his group flipped a switch.

The result was a hard-fought four-set win over Logan Elm by a 15-25, 25-9, 28-26, 25-23 final.

“I don’t know if it was nerves or what,” Hutton said. “So we just told the girls, we said, ‘Hey, that [first] game is over with. We have to go out there and do what we do best.’ We just told them to keep hitting the ball and keep attacking it. We started picking on this tip zone and that tip zone, and we took [Logan Elm] out of their game. That was the difference.”

After the Shermans (1-0) found their footing, senior Ella Cutright ran the show.

Down the stretch, and while both teams traded punches, she played an integral part in Unioto starting its season on the right foot. Cutright ended the night with a team-high 12 kills.

“She played lights out,” Hutton said of Cutright. “Sometimes, Ella can make some hitting errors. But we’ve been working in practice with her and teaching her that if she doesn’t get the perfect set, and she has to attack the ball flat-footed, she needs to do it. She had two hitting errors the entire night. She’s paying attention. She’s going to play at the next level. She’s a utility player. She can play every position. But she was unconscious tonight. She was our leader.”

Tale of the tape

Out of the gates, Logan Elm (1-1) looked as if it would run away with a victory.

Led by the hard-swinging Claire King, the Braves seized an early 7-3 lead before later going ahead 14-5 with an ace from sophomore Adelyn Smith.


PHOTOS: Images from Unioto’s win over Logan Elm


That was enough of an advantage for LE to run away with a 25-15 win to take a 1-0 lead.

Then, everything changed in the second — and seemingly in a second.

Unioto took its first lead of the night at 3-2 before Alli Park, Abbie Marshall and Cutright teamed up to spearhead an 11-0 run that put the Shermans on top by a 14-3 count. That momentum, combined with the net play of Jade Stewart late, allowed Unioto to tie the match with a dominant 25-9 victory.

“As a coach, you’re thinking how you just beat them really bad [in the second set] and you know that the next set is going to be really close. It was,” Hutton said. “It was punch for punch, and so was the fourth. It was point for point. We missed a couple of serves there at the end, a couple of opportunities where we could’ve finished. But we ended up winning it.”

As Hutton foreshadowed, the third was nip and tuck.

Cutright, Marshall and Madelyn Wetzel helped Unioto grab a 10-4 lead early. But King had something to say about that as she helped the Braves erase the deficit and force an 11-11 tie.

Later, Cutright, alongside Kyra Stulley, helped the Tanks build a 22-16 lead. That edge was at gamepoint, at 24-19, before Logan Elm decided to fight back. King and Smith led a 5-0 rally to force a deadlock and a Unioto timeout.

“I just told them the game wasn’t over,” Huton said. “I told them to put the pedal to the floor and that we couldn’t go around the curves slowly. We had to push. So I said, ‘You guys need to suck it up right now and go out there and finish this thing.’ That’s exactly what I said. It was one point at a time, one pass at a time.”

Cutright stepped up to end the Braves’ momentum before miscommunication doomed LE’s hopes as Unioto took a 2-1 lead.

The fourth unfolded similarly to the third. King put the Braves ahead 5-3 before Cutright followed suit, putting Unioto in front, 11-9. Later, an ace from Wetzel extended the Shermans’ lead to 17-14 and capped a 5-0 run.

Logan Elm then went on top 19-18 but the Tanks, led by Cutright, battled to take a 20-19 lead before putting a bow on the win with a 25-23 decision.

Stat book

Cutright was flanked by Park, who finished the night with nine kills and 1 ½ blocks. Wetzel had two aces and, 13 digs and 17 assists, Emma Specht added 13 assists, Marshall had seven kills, and libero Morgan Daniels led the team’s defense with 23 digs.

Logan Elm was led by King, who tallied a game-high 19 kills. Smith added 13 kills, Lynsay Vanhoose led the defense with 21 digs, and Hannah Rhoads tallied 10 digs, 32 assists and three blocks.

What’s on tap

While the Braves look to bounce back with a road trip to Westfall on Thursday, Unioto will play the same evening at Chillicothe.

The Cavaliers will be opening their season that night.

“[Chillicothe] has a pretty decent middle [hitter],” Hutton said. “We’ve got to work on defending that middle attack. If our block is late, we have to cover the five-zone. Claire [King] is a great player and she’s probably an All-Ohioan. She was splitting our block tonight. We can’t have that happen.”

SPONSORED BY SHANE MAIER — STATE FARM INSURANCE

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