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Tigers win 1st D1 sectional title in 46 years

Photo by Jordan Holland The Marietta High volleyball team claimed a Division I sectional championship with a three-set victory over Green Saturday at Sutton Gymnasium.

MARIETTA — Marietta volleyball has gone back and forth between Division I and Division II over the years.

In recent seasons, the Tigers have been stuck as one of the smallest D1 schools in the state. They’d put together successful regular seasons, but then have to play a really tough, much bigger school in the first round of the postseason and get beat.

Well, the 2021 Tigers have changed that narrative.

Marietta hosted Uniontown Green Saturday for a D1 sectional final and won in straight sets to claim the program’s first D1 sectional crown in 46 years.

“It was 1975, the last time we won it in Division I,” said MHS head coach Ron Kidder.

“It’s hard to get out of Division I. There’s 38 teams in our sectional. They all know each other playing in bigger leagues together, and we’re like the country people down here.”

Marietta was unfazed by the challenge, winning each set with plenty of cushion — 25-13, 25-17 and 25-18.

“They were a tough team,” said Marietta senior Sophie Evans. “We kind of knew what they had from the start, so we went in and practiced hard. We didn’t just beat an easy team for the sectional title. We beat a really tough team.”

Evans led Marietta with 13 kills. Kate Evans added 10 kills and senior Emily Arnold chipped in eight.

“This has been a goal since the beginning of the season ever since open gym,” Arnold said. “We’ve just been working for it, so it’s so nice that it finally came true.”

The Bulldogs, who finished their season with an 11-11 record, led 10-9 in the opening set before watching Marietta go on a 14-1 run to take command.

“We scouted them and knew they were a good team,” Kidder said. “We knew what we had to do and these girls had to perform. That’s what they did. They were going to be determined, be where they needed to be, do what they needed to do, and they did. Our serving was really good today. We hit the ball well. All aspects of the game, I think we played well tonight.”

The Tigers wanted this one bad.

“I think that was the most enthusiastic we’ve been for the entire season for a game,” said MHS senior Maddy Muntz, who contributed 34 assists, 12 digs and three aces. “We were all cheering almost all the time.”

Muntz is now three digs away from 1,000 for her career, and six assists away from 1,000. She’ll likely surpass both those marks in Marietta’s district semifinal match Tuesday against Massillon Perry. The match is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. at Stow-Munroe Falls High School.

“Nothing’s been given to them,” Kidder said. “They’ve earned it.”

All five of Marietta’s seniors credited their coach for having the team ready Saturday

“It’s a respect thing,” said Kidder, who surpassed 450 career wins this season. “I respect them and what they do and how hard they work. I think they respect me, watching how hard I try to work, scouting teams, getting them prepared, being hard on them at times. I am hard on them at times, but they understand I love every one of them.”

Marietta, which also won a share of the East Central Ohio League title this year, improved to 20-3 overall.

“It feels so rewarding,” said Marietta senior Grace Wojcik, who tallied seven kills, six digs and four assists. “All the hard work has paid off and we’re all super close anyways, so it just means the world. It’s like I’m winning this game with all my sisters.”

Anna Ritter recorded nine digs, four kills and two blocks for the Tigers while senior McKenzie Wright, who said “staying focused” will be the key for Marietta to keep advancing, added seven digs.

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