NTL VOLLEYBALL: 2023 BEST SEASON IN OVER A DECADE FOR WILLIAMSON LADY WARRIORS
(2023-11-20)Northern Tier West Sports Report
TIOGA JUNCTION — The Williamson volleyball team had a successful 2023 .. with a three-win improvement over the past two seasons and a runner-up finish in the NTL small school division.
Williamson’s 15-6 final record is their best finish since the 2012 Lady Warriors .. featuring current Williamson Coach Lindsea (Jones) Rush .. won back-to-back District 4 Class A titles and made a run to the State finals.
Rush and co-Head Coach Nicole VanGorden took the program over last season and replicated the Warriors’ 12-7 record from 2021. This season, Williamson featured a nice mix of senior leadership and underclass players that battled through both the Warriors’ wins and losses.
Williamson had nine 3-0 sweeps on the season and was pushed to a fifth set three times .. a pair of 3-2 wins over District 4 Class A finalist Cowanesque Valley and their 3-2 loss to Troy in the first round of Districts. The Warriors only had one match the whole season where they failed to win at least a set when they were swept by Williamsport.
That loss snapped a five-match winning streak by the Warriors and preceded their 8-1 finish on the regular season. Williamson’s remaining losses came against 7-time defending large school champ North Penn Liberty (3-1), District 4 semifinalist Wellsboro (3-1) and twice to District and NTL small school champ Northeast Bradford. Williamson would be the only team to take a set from the Panthers the entire regular season, doing so in both of their 3-1 losses.
The Warriors earned the No. 4 seed for Districts and a rematch with Troy, the No. 5 seed. The Trojans took a 2-0 lead but Williamson rallied to force a fifth set, which Troy won 15-9.
Taylor Rae Jones had 276 kills on the season .. surpassing 750 kills in the senior’s career .. and added 277 digs, 104 points with 46 aces, 19 assists and eight blocks, while sophomore setter Raegan VanGorden handed out 602 assists and had 215 digs, 231 points with 84 aces and 38 kills.
Jones and her fellow seniors Mikenna Buchannon (83 kills, 16 blocks, 45 assists, 86 digs, 96 pts, 44 aces), Jocilyn Strange (117 kills, 32 blocks, 28 digs, 8 aces), Bailee Smith (79 kills, 178 pts, 46 aces, 57 assists, 230 digs) and Anna Brown (61 digs, 6 pts, 2 assists) will be missed next season, but the Warriors will return a strong core of underclassmen including juniors Joelie Stephens (343 digs, 17 assists, 201 pts, 42 aces, 10 kills) and Leah Earle (59 kills, 72 digs, 54 pts, 20 aces) as well as sophomores VanGorden and Abby Gehman (120 kills, 63 digs), and freshmen Bailey Snyder (97 digs, 42 pts, 32 aces, 3 kills), Olivia Gee (4 kills, 5 aces, 9 digs) and Aubrey Wells (9 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces).
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