Monday, October 15, 2018 Medina 54°

High School Sports

Diggin' the spotlight: Badowski powered Brunswick to regional finals

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Ally Badowski was the go-to girl on the greatest volleyball teams in Brunswick history.

The 6-footer also was one of the most intimidating athletes in the area, which is why she caught everyone off-guard late in the Strongsville Division I District final.

“Ally is a very intense player and leader, and she gave the team some of our favorite speeches over the years,” chuckling Blue Devils coach Mande Luttner said. “So when she walked into the huddle, we didn’t know what would come out of her mouth.

“But she yells, ‘You guys, this is literally fun,’ and she meant it. Here we were, playing a big rival in North Royalton with a chance to go back to regionals, and Ally is loving every minute of it. It was great and something that I’ll never forget.”

Badowski created many unforgettable moments during her four-year career, which included winning three district championships and setting two major school records.

The Indiana University signee also established herself as one of the top players of all-time in Medina County. She becomes just the seventh player to be named The Gazette MVP in back-to-back years.

“I knew this season was important — not that the others weren’t — but I was determined to make it great because it was our senior season,” the All-Ohio first-team honoree said. “Every moment that I spent with my team was savored, and I refused to go out with any regrets as we finished our high school careers.

“In the end, I really believe we did a great job achieving our goals and overcoming any obstacles that came our way.”

Badowski put an exclamation point on her legacy by delivering a Brunswick-record 364 kills in 2015, topping the previous mark of 359 she set one year earlier.

Along the way, she also established a school-career record of 910 kills — and smashed the county postseason mark with 115 kills this fall.

Yet, those individual accomplishments didn’t mean nearly as much to her as the unprecedented success the Blue Devils had.

Brunswick became the first county team to reach the regional finals in consecutive seasons, posting 45 wins in 54 matches during the run.

The Blue Devils advanced to the Brecksville Regional in 2014 and the Norwalk Regional this year, only to lose to Toledo St. Ursula both times, falling one win shy of the state tournament.

“I would have loved making it to the Final Four in our last go-round as Blue Devils, but everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad we went as far as we could have,” she said. “Our last match was a very good one, and we all played our hearts out as much as we could that afternoon.

“We were waiting for the tournament all year. And when it arrived, we got super serious because that was what we would be remembered by, not any individual awards.”

This season also was special for Badowski because her younger sister, Kirsten, was a member of the team. She also built lifelong bonds with the other nine seniors on the squad, including outside hitter Amanda Lessman and libero Jordan Verbiak.

She and close friend Lessman were known as “The Hammers” because of their ridiculously hard hitting at the net, while Luttner jokingly called her and Verbiak “husband and wife” because they would bicker on the court, but always have each other’s backs.

“It wasn’t just us, our entire team had a really close bond,” Badowski said. “All these different personalities collided, but we just fit together and we weren’t afraid to be ourselves. We weren’t all just friends, we were all best friends — as close as sisters — who all shared the same love for the game.”

Unfortunately, though, all good things must come to an end in prep sports.

Badowski will continue her volleyball career at the NCAA D-I level in 2016, fulfilling another of her goals, while the Blue Devils try to build a new powerhouse team.

Luttner says she will miss her two-time All-Ohioan as much as Badowski will miss the program.

“Ally has grown so much from playing middle as a freshman to being an all-around outside hitter, it’s been special for all of us,” the coach said.

“The thing I might remember the most, though, is the way she always retaliated with a kill any time her team was wronged. We didn’t keep stats on it, but I’m betting that she got kills 100 percent of the time after a call went against us. This team meant everything to Ally, and I loved having her be a part of it as a coach.”

Contact Brian Dulik at Follow him on Twitter @BrianDulik

Gazette MVPs

  • Ally Badowski (Bru) 2015
  • Ally Badowski (Bru) 2014
  • Peyton Booth (W) 2013
  • Gabrielle Bulic (Bru) 2012
  • Ally Peters (M) 2011
  • Samantha Mueller (Buc) 2010
  • Marah Farage (Buc) 2009
  • Corrin Early (C) 2008
  • Emily Hulthen (M) 2007
  • Aimey Reynolds (W) 2006
  • Aimey Reynolds (W) 2005
  • Colleen Dryja (Bru) 2004
  • Colleen Dryja (Bru) 2003
  • Shanna Keller (Buc) 2002
  • Brittny Hill (BR) 2001
  • Lauren Collins (Bru) 2000
  • Jessica Nowak (H) 1999
  • Michelle Mocarski (H) 1998
  • Nicole Stuchal (W) 1997
  • Amy Hurley (Bru) 1996
  • Amy Hurley (Bru) 1995
  • Katie Gruver (W) 1994
  • Caroline McCombs (M) 1993
  • Jill Smith (H) 1992
  • Jill Smith (H) 1991
  • Sheila Gisbrecht (Bru) 1990
  • Stephanie Greer (M) 1989
  • Paula Lemire (H) 1988
  • Julie Ruhlin (W) 1987
  • Julie Ruhlin (W) 1986
  • Michele Maynard (W) 1985
  • Deb Berry (BR) 1984
  • Carol Claridge (Bru) 1983
  • Carol Claridge (Bru) 1982
  • Shelly Miller (M) / Michelle Smith (H) 1981
  • Denice Jensen (BR) 1980
  • Lisa Jensen (BR) 1979
  • Cheryl Althaus (W) 1978

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