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 grits out five-set win over Adena, takes driver’s seat in SVC title race

The Shermans now sit alone atop the SVC title race.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

CHILLICOTHE — Jimmy Hutton’s heart rate may have been unbelievably high on Tuesday.

Unioto’s head coach had just witnessed his Shermans scratch, claw and battle their way to a five-set win over Adena in dramatic fashion — a win that gave the team sole possession of first place in the Scioto Valley Conference title race.

Some games live up to the hype. Some don’t. This one certainly did — it just may have taken some time off Hutton’s lifespan in the process.

“This is a great win,” Unioto coach Jimmy Hutton said. “We’ve worked on this all week long and we knew it would be this kind of a match. Adena has played a lot of good teams up north. But we beat them the first time we played them and they knew we were going to bring a bunch of hitters at them. That’s what we did. It’s just a big win for the girls. And that’s what it’s all about … our girls in that locker room.”

Unioto’s Zoie Dettwiller celebrates a point in the fifth set of Tuesday’s win.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

After dropping the night’s first set, the Shermans (14-2, 8-1 SVC) won the next two and dropped the fourth before sealing the win in the fifth — a 10-25, 25-19, 25-22, 26-28, 16-14 final.

It wasn’t easy and, at times, it wasn’t pretty. In fact, after seizing a 14-7 lead in the fifth, needing just one point to seal the deal, Unioto allowed Adena to rip off a 7-0 run to tie the game.

But it was a win … an absolute gut-check win.

“It’s obviously a big win,” Unioto senior Abbie Marshall said. “Anyone that knows SVC volleyball knows that beating Adena is a big deal, especially beating them twice [in a season]. But this was our goal. We just had to come out and get our jobs done.”

Tale of the tape

It’s fair to say that the first set ended up being a good, ol’ fashioned butt-whipping.

Behind spectacular play from Brinlee Preston and Katie Burns, Adena (9-7, 7-2 SVC) built an early 6-3 lead. Later, after the Shermans had closed the gap to 8-7, the Warriors went on an 8-0 run, thanks, in part, to Kamryn Sowers at the service line and Eva Kruger at the net.

That run, which made it 16-8, powered a 25-10 victory. But in the second, Unioto flipped the script.

Madelyn Wetzel stepped to the service line and helped her Shermans take a 3-0 lead, which swelled to 8-1. Burns and company battled to cut the deficit to 13-10 before taking a 14-13 lead.

But from that point on, Unioto’s Ella Cutright refused to be denied. The senior, with help from Alli Park and Jade Stewart, led the Shermans on a game-ending 12-5 run to tie the match at 1-1.

That momentum carried over into the third.

Cutright instantly logged a kill to start things off before Morgan Daniels tallied back-to-back aces to further execute the game plan, making it 5-0 to begin the set.

PHOTOS: Images from Unioto’s win over Adena

“We wanted to serve aggressively,” Hutton said. “If we can do that, we take them out of their system, they hit three balls and send it over to us. Then we can run our offense. We did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

Adena, again, battled back. Kruger and Preston helped their teammates chip away at the lead, bringing the Warriors to within one at 12-11. But Marshall, Cutright, Park and Zoie Dettwiller all powered down kills to create breathing room, giving Unioto a 20-14 advantage.

The Shermans then held off a late Adena rally, going ahead 2-1 in the match with a 25-22 win.

All night long, long rallies were a theme. On Unioto’s side, Daniels, at her libero post, kept those alive.

“She’s so, so valuable [to the defense],” Hutton said of Daniels. “We call her the flash because she’s everywhere. In the summer, we had three defensive players compete for that [libero] jersey. It was up for grabs. They knew that and they were fighting for it throughout the summer. Morgan ended up getting it.”

In the fourth and fifth sets, every single point mattered.

The fourth was nip-and-tuck throughout with each team throwing haymakers. The Warriors managed to take leads of 14-9, 20-16 and 23-20. Unioto tied the game at 24-24 but Adena threw the last punch, sealing a 28-26 victory to force the fifth set.

Park, Marshall and Cutright quickly made it 3-0 Tanks in the fifth. A kill and two aces from Cutright, alongside two kills from Marshall, then made it 8-1 and forced an Adena timeout.

Unioto continued to build on that early momentum, going ahead 14-7 behind kills from Dettwiller and Jade Stewart. But that’s when Adena went on what could have been a game-defining 7-0 burst.

“I told them that the game wasn’t over,” Hutton said. “We were still up a point but we had to push through some things right then. So I said, ‘Suck it up. Let’s go.’ They did. Sometimes, you have to be hard on the kids. I’m not a screamer or a yeller. But I get upset when they’re doing some things that are junior high level stuff … balls hitting the floor and not moving their feet. But they responded well to that. They got it done.”

Cutright logged a kill, making it 15-14, before an Adena defensive error gave the Shermans the victory … allowing Hutton and his coaching staff to breathe normally once again.

Stat book

Daniels led Unioto’s defense with 40 digs alongside a pair of aces while Madelyn Wetzel added 33 assists and 16 digs of her own to the stat sheet. Marshall and Cutright both ended the night with 14 kills while Dettwiller tallied seven. Cutright also had four aces and three blocks. 

Adena was led by Kruger, who had a game-high 20 kills, while Burns and Preston had 12 each.

What’s on tap

While Adena attempts to bounce back on Thursday at home against Zane Trace, Unioto travels to Paint Valley.

The Shermans, now with a one-game lead in the SVC, know they still have their work cut out for them.

“We’re going to tell the girls to not even think about the record we have. We just need to think about the team we’re playing next,” Hutton said. “We have to take care of what we can take care of then. If we do that, the record will take care of itself. But this, tonight, is a tremendous win.”


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