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FROM THE PRESS BOX: A CRYSTAL BALL LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2024 VOLLEYBALL SEASON (2023-12-05)

It was a rough fall for the volleyball teams in the Valley.

Tioga reached the Section IV, Class D championship match, but its eight losses in a 9-8 season were the most suffered by the program in two decades.

An experienced Waverly team struggled a bit in its first season in the STAC, but qualified for the postseason, and finished with a 6-10 record.

A young Athens teams finished at 4-11, and an inexperienced Sayre team was 0-19

What lies in store for the 2024 season? Well, the crystal ball is a little murky with the start of the season still about nine months away, but let’s give it a whirl anyway.

Athens Wildcats: Athens will only lose one senior that saw significant time this season, and returns the likes of juniors Ella Coyle, Keaton Wiles, Kassie Babcock, and Sydney Field for their senior seasons.

The Wildcats also had a couple of youngsters, including freshman Meg Wiles, see limited time. They will need the reserves from this year’s squad, or a player or two from the JV team to step up next year if Athens is too see a marked improvement.

Prediction: Coach Heather Hanson has shown she can coach. I expect the Wildcats to improve on their 4-11 record in 2023. … 2024 record: 8-8.

Sayre Redskins: The Redskins will need to replace three seniors, but numbers in general could be a concern.

Sayre returns a trio of talented players in Rylee Lantz, Abbie McGaughey, and Raegan Parrish, but they’ll need help from some of this year’s role players that will return, or from someone up from the junior high ranks.

Prediction: Coach Severin Barbagallo has done a solid job with this program, despite a winless season this fall. If he can get the girls who need to be out for the program, on the floor, it will make his job a little less stressful, but that is easier said than done at Sayre these days. … 2024 record: 2-17.

Tioga Tigers: The Tigers lose six seniors from a team that reached the Section IV finals, but lost more matches than any Tioga team in the last two decades.

The Tigers return Kali Bailey, RaeAnne Feeko, and Audi Zorn, as well as Lydiah Decker and Kendra Noe. Also returning from the JVs will be Alyson Chamberlain, Vanessa Tunnicliff, Lilly Mezzatesta, and Jade Keaty, who all saw some varsity action in the postseason.

Prediction: Despite the loss of three starters, I think Tioga will be improved next year, but Lansing and Trumansburg will both be tough once again. Don’t be surprised if Des Ford’s Tigers make a run at another Section IV title. … 2024 record: 13-5.

Waverly Wolverines:
Waverly loses a handful of seniors, including three — Ashlen Croft, Erica Ryck, and Peyton Shaw — who have played a lot of volleyball for the Wolverines.

Lillie Kirk and Maddy Olmsted will be the most experienced returners next season, and they’ll need some of this year’s reserves or JV players to step up in 2024.

Prediction: I have no doubt coach Hailee Herc will get this program back in contention for a Section IV title in time, but next year could be the real start to the building process. … 2024 record: 4-12.

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