By: Tim Taylor | | October 25, 2022 | Photo courtesy David Alliger


WELLSBORO — Athens rallied after dropping the first set, then held off a Wellsboro comeback attempt to win a five-set thriller, and qualify for the upcoming District 4, Class AA volleyball playoffs here Tuesday night.

The Lady Wildcats dropped a 25-20 decision in the first set, but bounced back to win the next two by scores of 25-16 and 28-26. The Lady Hornets evened the match with a 25-22 win in the fourth set, but Athens closed it out with a 15-10 win in the fifth set.

A week ago, Athens was 5-8, and in need of three wins in its final three games to qualify for the postseason. Wins over Troy and Towanda last week, set up Tuesday’s win-or-go-home match at Wellsboro.

“The girls played crazy fired-up tonight,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “They were relentless.

“When we played Wellsboro before, there were many long rallies ending with Wellsboro putting the ball down and crushing our momentum,” she noted. “Not tonight, we fought and won many of the long rallies.

“What a confidence boost,” Hanson added.

The last week, noted Hanson, has seen the Lady Wildcats in postseason mode. She hopes her team’s sense of urgency continues into the postseason.

“The biggest takeaway from this whole experience was the joy and crazy intense enthusiasm from all,” said Hanson. “Even in moments where they got down they turned it around; that is a mindset that’s necessary for the next part of the season.”

Senior Jenny Ryan posted a triple-double with 15 service points, 27 setter assists, and 16 digs, to go along with seven kills, and three blocks, and senior Audrey Clare had five points, 20 kills, three blocks, eight assists, and 14 digs to lead the Lady Wildcats.

“Special props to Audrey Clare for having 20 kills tonight, the girl was loud, determined and a leader,” said Hanson. “Jenny Ryan ran the court, with over 100 setter attempts meaning she gave her hitters a ton of chances to hit.

“Those were a couple highlights, but none of that would be possible without the entire team,” she added. “Ella Coyle had incredible serves tonight, and Cailin McDaniel came in clutch with her serves.”

Sophomore Ella Coyle had 14 points (two aces), and three digs in the win, while senior Cassie Friend registered three kills, seven blocks, and two digs, and sophomore Kassie Babcock had nine points, five kills, and 15 digs.

Sophomore Keaton Wiles had eight kills, and 11 digs for the Lady Wildcats, while senior Cailin McDaniel had four points, one block, and three digs, junior Emily Marshall added four digs, and junior Izzy Davis recorded three digs.

Sophomore Paige Logsdon led Wellsboro with 15 kills, 11 blocks, 10 points (two aces), and nine digs, while sophomore Lexi Arena had 16 points (four aces), and 19 digs, junior Natalie Cleveland added 10 points (three aces), and 23 digs, senior Emily Starkweather had seven points, six kills, three blocks, and 18 digs, and senior Maddi Bordas chipped in with 31 setter assists, 13 digs, and three kills.

Athens, now 8-8, now awaits confirmation on its District 4 opening-round opponent. The current power rankings has Athens as the fourth seed, with a home game next week against fifth-seed Wellsboro. Brackets are expected to be released Friday.