The first 11 years of of volleyball coverage on Valley Sports Report has featured a number of interesting storylines, and some tremendous talent.
Waverly won its first-ever Section IV title, Sayre, which had just two winning seasons in 11 years, played for a District 4 title, and Athens ended the decade with its only two winning seasons in the VSR era.
The first 11 years, however, was dominated by Tioga, which put together a historic win streak and won a host of Section IV titles.
The Wolverines began the VSR-era with back-to-back losing seasons in 2009 and ’10 before Kesha Sinsabaugh took the reigns of the program prior to the 2011 season.
After an 8-8 season and a postseason appearance in her first season, Sinsabaugh directed the Lady Wolverines to a 17-2 record, their first IAC Large School championship since 1994, and a Class C title game appearance.
Both losses came against Edison — the first to end a 14-match season-opening win streak and the second in the Class C championship game. The Lady Wolverines were led by all-state performer Jordan Raupers (third team), as well as Dana Langdon, Morgan Salsman, Sam Mennig, and Erin Fagan.
Waverly qualified for the postseason in each of the next five season, but went 0-5 — losing in the quarterfinals each year, the first two in Class C and the last three in Class B.
In 2018, Waverly won a divisional title, but dropped a five-setter to Trumansburg in the IAC Large School Championship match.
The Lady Wolverines edged Edison in a five-set thriller in the Section IV quarterfinals, then posted a 4-2 record in pool play to advance to the Class C finals.
In the title tilt, Waverly topped Susquehanna Valley for its first-ever Section IV title, led by Sidney Meyers, Paige Lewis, Chloe Croft, Jordan Mente, and Adrianah Clinton. The Lady Wolverines saw their season end in the opening round of the state playoffs with a loss to powerhouse Millbrook.
Meyers and Lewis earned all-state Class C accolades. Meyers was a third-team selection, and Lewis earned a fifth-team nod.
As the decade came to a close, Waverly found itself in position to defend its Class B title. After a win over Lansing in the quarterfinals — Sinsabaugh’s 100th career victory, the Lady Wolverines, the sixth seed, advanced to the finals with a 3-3 pool play record.
Powerhouse Windsor swept Waverly in the finals to end their hopes of a repeat.
Sayre opened the decade with an 8-10 record, which would be its best mark until 2015.
Sayre grad Tom Shay coached the Lady Redskins to a 10-7 regular-season record in 2015, and the program’s first postseason appearance since 2004. Their season ended in the Class A quarterfinals with a 3-0 loss to Galeton.
A year later, Shay and the Lady Redskins posts a 15-3 regular-season record. Their hopes, however, of a District 4 title ended in a five-set loss to Galeton in the Class A finals. Senior Molly Ball received all-state honors.
Joining Ball as mainstays on the Lady Redskins were Domi Woodruff, Madi Dutra, Camryn Brown, and Andi Noldy.
Athens opened the decade-plus of coverage with a 7-10 record in 2009, and struggled to hit that mark until the end of the decade.
Longtime coach MaryAlice Sullivan stepped down at the end of the 2011 season, and the Lady Wildcats had two of her former players take the helm over the next seven seasons, but it wasn’t until the arrival of Heather Hanson in 2018 that the program would take an upturn.
Hanson directed the Lady Wildcats to a 9-8 regular-season record in 2018, and their first playoff appearance in nearly 15 years. They dropped a hard-fought four-set decision to Williamson in the District 4 quarterfinals.
The following year, Athens improved to 11-6 in the regular season. Hanson’s troops beat Wyalusing in the Class AA quarterfinals for the program’s first postseason win since 2005-06. The Lady Wildcats lost to powerhouse North Penn-Liberty in the semifinals.
The Wildcats were led by standouts Haley Barry, Taylor Field, Kayleigh Miller, Leah Liechty, and Cassidy Stackpole.
In the fall of 2009, Tioga sports was not a part of VSR’s coverage area, and that proved to be my mistake. Des Ford’s team, led by the quintet of Kay Pfleghardt, Jessica Legursky, Audrey Talcott, Chelsea Robertson and Cheyenne Skinner won a Section IV title, and finished third at the NYS Class C championships.
Thomas A. Edison proved to be a formidable roadblock for the Lady Tigers the next two season, stopping them in the Section IV, Class C championship match.
In 2012, Tioga won another Section IV title, sweeping previously-unbeaten Harpursville to win the Class D title. It would be the first of five Sectional titles in the decade. The Lady Tigers dropped a five-set decision to Lafayette in the NYS Class D quarterfinals.
In 2013, the Lady Tigers dropped the first set, but rallied to beat Harpursville, 3-1, to repeat as Class D champs. They avenged their loss to Lafayette in the state quarterfinals to reach the state final four.
At States Tioga went 3-3 in pool play for a third-place finish.
Olivia Howland’s season-ending injury proved costly for Tioga in 2014, and it was swept by Harpursville in the Class D finals.
Tioga bounced back in 2015. After losing its opening match of the season at Edison, the Lady Tigers did not lose again, sweeping Harpursville in the Class D finals. After beating Lafayette again in the state quarterfinals, the Lady Tigers finished fourth at the state finals.
Making its eighth straight appearance in the Section IV finals, Tioga swept Bainbridge-Guilford for its fourth title in five years. The Lady Tigers dropped the first two sets to Pawling in the NYS Class quarterfinals, and ended up losing in five sets.
In 2017, Tioga swept previously-unbeaten Trumansburg for its fifth title in six years, but lost 3-1 to Millbrook in the NYS Class C quarterfinals. The Lady Tigers also ended the season with an 82-match regular-season win streak.
In 2018, Tioga won its first five matches before dropping a five-set thriller to Candor to end its 87-match regular-season win streak.
In the postseason, Tioga upset Candor in a semi-final pool play one-game playoff to advance to the Section IV finals for the 10th straight time, but eventual state champion B-G claimed the Class D crown.
Last season, Tioga lost a one-game playoff to B-G in Class D semi-final pool play action, missing the Section IV finals for the first time since 2008.
The Lady Tigers littered the all-state lists with players, with at least one athlete earning all-state accolades for nine consecutive seasons from 2009 through 2017, led by three-time all-state selection Malley Bowen, and two-time picks Kay Pfleghardt, Bry Godfrey, and Martha Schumacher. They are:
2009: Kay Pleghardt (first team), and Jessica Legursky (second team);
2010: Pleghardt (fourth team);
2011: Jess Ramsey (fourth team);
2012: Bry Godfrey (second team);
2013: Godfrey (first team), Malley Bowen (second team), and Alexis Swagger (fourth team);
2014: Bowen (fourth team);
2015: Bowen (first team), Brittany Vergason (second team), Martha Schumacher (third team);
2016: Olivia Howland (third team);
2017: Martha Schumacher (third team), and Anna Schumacher (fourth team).
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