NTL VOLLEYBALL: WYALUSING HAS SEASON TO REMEMBER
(2021-11-21)Northern Tier Sports Report
Wyalusing went through so many ups and downs throughout the year, the team may still be in shock at what they were able to accomplish considering what they had to go through to get it. At one point they were down to just a handful of varsity players in the middle of the season, but overcame that to shock the league when they swept the 5-time District IV champions NP-Liberty to claim the Class AA title.
“The 2021 volleyball season will be long remembered as one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of Wyalusing volleyball, and the NTL,” said coach Jennifer Newton. “We finished 15-7, snapped an 83-match win streak against North Penn-Liberty, defeating the 5-time district champions in a 3-game sweep.”
The Rams finished the year 15-7, but were 4-4 eight matches in before rattling off six straight wins to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs.
“My coaching perspective and outlook on this season we’re so difference from the past two years,” Newton said. “I wanted a ‘normal year.’ I wanted to coach us through to the end, and not worry so much about the early success because, truly like anything in life, timing is everything. I learned that many years ago with track and field.”
They started at the Williamson Tournament, then went 1-1 to start the match season, after which they won three straight matches, including a 3-1 victory over their rivals Towanda. However, back to back losses, with one to Canton, set them back. They would get a win over Sayre, but followed that up with a 3-1 loss to NEB to sit at .500.
“For the next three weeks after that tournament, we would be faced with injury, Covid, and Covid quarantine, taking us down to seven players at one point,” said Newton. “By October 1st, we were all back together, and moving forward, with the thought of not dropping a game for the entire month.”
They regrouped, earning three straight four set wins against Athens, Wellsboro, and NEB to start off their six game win streak. They would sweep CV, and get revenge against Williamson with a 3-1 win, after falling them early in the season.
Another loss to Canton ended the streak, but that was followed by two more wins. In their final match of the season they got a good look at NPL, falling to the Mounties 3-1.
“Our goal for the season was to get back to districts,” said Newton. “When we went to get off the bus in Williamson for the district semifinal, I said to the team, repeat after me ‘I do not believe this is our last game.’ The biggest motivator may have been when I told them if we can get to the district final game, win or lose, we are coming home with medals.”
They beat Williamson in the semifinals, then swept NPL to claim the district title. Their season ended with a loss to Holy Redeemer in the first round of states.
They were a deep team, which was key as they suffered key injuries to one of their setters, and their outside hitter Hannah Ely, who had 104 kills on the year.
“Injury and some obstacles had made me think about if coaching was really meant for me,” said Newton. “Sometimes, those extra obstacles can fuel you, and a team to be even better, and that’s exactly what happened when we caught fire.”
They were led by their defense as Priscilla Newton had 368 digs, London Edwards notched 220, and Reanne Rodriguez finished with 214. Edwards also led the team with 63 aces.
Emilee Otis took over the setting duties, but was one of the more well rounded players in the league, with 140 digs, 384 assists, 64 kills, and 43 aces.
Upfront, Karissa Brown finished with 100 kills, while Sage Superko added 98. Superko also had 17 blocks, with Edwards getting 15.
They say goodbye to seven seniors - including rotation players Brown, Superko, Rodriguez, Olivia Tewksbury, DeAnna Masters, and Emily Girven - but key returners will be Otis, Newton, Edwards and Ely, giving them a good nucleus to build around.
But for now, the Rams aren’t done enjoying the 2021 season.
“We became one team regardless of grade, regardless of playing time,” said Newton. “Everyone embraced their role, and no one could stop us. This was truly our journey…just like the warm-up shirt said.”
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