By: Tim Birney | | October 20, 2022 | Photo courtesy David Alliger


ATHENS — A week ago, Athens had its back to the wall, needing to win its final three matches to qualify for the upcoming District 4, Class AA volleyball playoffs. After an emotional four-set win over Towanda Thursday night, the Lady Wildcats now only need to win their season finale at Wellsboro.

The Lady Wildcats won the first two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-20, but the Lady Black Knights won the third set, 26-24, to keep the match alive. Athens finished off the night with a convincing, 25-10, win in the fourth set.

“It was Senior Night tonight, and it was pretty emotional,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “What was so amazing and really hit me was, how loved these five seniors are and how amazing they truly are.

“You get so focused in the season you forget they are teenage girls playing a sport they love,” she noted. :Then you have Senior Night and remember all of it.”

“The girls played as a team tonight again just like at Troy,” added Hanson. “Sometimes, when you have these nights honoring certain players other players have a tough time handling that — not this team. They really supported one another.”

The fourth set ended with senior Braelynn Wood, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this season, at the service line, her leg adorned by a bulky knee brace. She served the match-ending point.

“Braelynn Wood was allowed to serve the game point in the fourth set, and that’s when I lost it,” said an emotional Hanson. “I really think that spoke to everyone —  play hard and support each other because you never know when it could be your last game. Braelynn Wood was the MVP tonight.”

Senior Audrey Clare led Athens with 14 kills, one block, 11 digs. four service points — all aces, and three setter assists, while senior Jenny Ryan had six points — all aces, 13 kills, one block, 24 assists, and five digs, senior Cassy Friend registered two kills and two blocks, and Cailin McDaniel chipped in with one block,

“All the seniors played great tonight,” said Hanson.

Junior Emily Marshall had five points in the win, while sophomore Ella Coyle had three points (two aces), and 11 digs, sophomore Kassie Babcock had two points (two aces), two kills, and five digs, junior Keaton Wiles had five kills and five digs, sophomore Gretchen Schmieg recorded three kills and four digs, and Izzy Davis chipped in with three points (two aces).

“We have a new addition to the team in Gretchen Schmeig, and she played outstanding ball tonight already,” said Hanson. “Izzy Davis also stepped up big and played front and back row exceptionally.”

Athens, now 7-8, closes out the regular season Tuesday at Wellsboro.


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio
Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes five sites in "The Sports Reports" family that cover 24 school districts in five counties: Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020); Northern Tier West Sports Report (March 15, 2021) Southern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 16, 2021).