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FROM THE PRESS BOX: THE 2021 VOLLEYBALL SEASON — A PEEK INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL (2021-07-25)

The 2020-21 volleyball season was all about Athens.

The Lady Wildcats made it to their first District final in 15 years, losing to Berwick in the District 2-4 Sub-Regional finals.

Athens was 10-6 during the regular season, with all of its losses to the top two seeds in the Class A and AA playoffs, then made a strong postseason run.

Tioga finished the season at 7-3, with two losses coming to defending state champion Candor, and the other to defending state runner-up Owego. But, with no postseason in New York, that’s where it ended.

Waverly finished the season at 3-9, and Sayre was 0-14.

What does the 2021 fall season look like?

Let’s take a look into the Crystal Ball:

Athens Lady Wildcats: Coach Heather Hanson has done a tremendous job in her three seasons at Athens, but the Lady Wildcats graduated a large group of seniors, including all-NTL performers Leah Liechty, Kayleigh Miller, Kylie Jayne, and Taylor Field.

Athens returns Jenny Ryan, Taylor Walker, and Ally Martin, but the rest will come from a junior varsity team  that only had a few wins.

Heather Hanson has done a tremendous job in her three years at the helm of the Lady Wildcats, but she will face her biggest challenge yet this fall.

Prediction: The NTL Large School Division should be pretty good once again. Athens could be hard-pressed to play .500 ball this fall — 7-8.

Sayre Lady Redskins: Coming off an 0-14 season, there’s no where to go but up for the Lady Redskins.

The program has run through a number of coaches since Tom Shay had them in the District 4 championship game in 2016, so bringing back Sayre grad and former standout Alia Post for her second year on the sidelines would be a good step toward developing a little consistency in the program.

The first thing Post will need to do is keep the girls in the program, and then develop her youth program. There is much work to be done, and it will take time, but it can be done.

Prediction: It won’t be about wins and losses for the Lady Redskins this season, but I do expect them to get in the win column. — 2-16.

Tioga Lady Tigers:
Tioga graduate a couple of key seniors, but bring back quite a bit, led by seniors Emme Hall, Julia Bellis, and Molly Bombard, and junior Reese Howey.

Add to that seniors Austyn Vance, Mariah Nichols, and Nina Spano, along with a number of potential contributors from a solid JV team, and the Lady Tigers should be very competitive.

Prediction: Candor suffered some big graduation losses, but will still be competitive — just not dominant. The rest of the division has a lot of questions. I have to believe that the Lady Tigers will make a run at the top spot in the IAC South Small School Division. — 14-4.

Waverly Lady Wolverines:
After back-to-back trips to the Section IV championship game, including the program’s first title in 2018, Waverly took a big step backward this spring with a very young team.

After graduating three more seniors, the Lady Wolverines will be young again — if not in terms of age, in terms of varsity experience — in 2021 for second-year coach Charity Meyers, .

Senior Aryan Peters and freshman Lillie Kirk will be the mainstays, with seniors Sydney Nierstedt  and Aubrey Ennis set to return, along with junior Michaela Lauper, and sophomore Peighton Streeter.

Waverly could also have several potential starters / contributors up from a solid JV team.

Prediction: Thomas A. Edison looks to be the team to beat in the IAC South Large School Division, while Newark Valley graduated a couple of key seniors, but should remain competitive. I expect Waverly to be much improved. — 9-7.


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