The first two weeks of February are usually crunch time for Frontier League volleyball and wrestling schools as both sports play for championships.
Each sport normally has wrapped up the Frontier League tournaments and volleyball would be in the early rounds of Section 3 play. Wrestling has wrapped up its respective class tournaments and individuals are preparing for the state qualifiers.
COVID-19 has stopped those championship pursuits, but the Lewis County volleyball schools will finally get to step on the court when South Lewis hosts Beaver River at 6 tonight. It’s what coaches like longtime Lowville coach Jim Rhodes have prepared for season after season, but this year they’ll relish opportunity to play.
“We are just thankful to be able to do this at all,” Rhodes said.
The three volleyball schools of Beaver River, Lowville and South Lewis are scheduled to play a six-match schedule starting tonight with each team playing the other three times. Game nights will be on Wednesday and Saturday for this abbreviated season. The truncated season took plenty of effort to get off the ground.
“This would not have been possible without the tremendous support of our superintendent and athletic director working very hard to make it happen,” South Lewis coach Ashley Gino said.
All three teams have been fixtures in sectional play and Beaver River won the Class C title after a 16-1 campaign last season. Longtime Beavers coach Gene Sundberg knows this team had a shot at a great season and advance deep into sectionals. But he is simply glad to be out there coaching.
“We have six seniors on our team and our team had a chance to be pretty good,” said Sundberg, who has a career record of 626-109 in 35 seasons.
The last slated match of the volleyball season is between Lowville and South Lewis on March 10.
The start of wrestling is still up in the air. There had been hopes that a schedule would be released at the end of last week, but nothing has been unveiled. There remains hope that the Lewis County-based schools can have some type of schedule.
“We’re supposed to wrestle for six weeks, but we’re just taking it day-by-day,” Lowville coach Joe Widrick said.
Copenhagen has been sending some of their wrestlers to tournaments out of the area to stay sharp. Golden Knights coach Clay Russell said the Lewis County-based schools will be better for having some type of a season.
“It gives us a leg up over the Jefferson County schools at least having some sort of dual meet schedule,” Russell said.
Outlook: Beaver River is the defending Section 3 Class C champions after rallying to beat Onondaga in the final. 24-26, 25-16, 19-25, 25-22, 25-9. It was the eighth sectional crown for legendary coach Gene Sundberg. The Beavers bring back veterans like Chelsea Greenwood and Emma Dicob. Lowville has one senior and plenty of juniors on their roster from their “B” Division playoff-winning squad. The Red Raiders will be paced by Hannah Gyore. South Lewis made another sectional quarterfinal before being ousted by Beaver River. Younger players like Leah Greene and Sophia Sabatini stepped up later in the season.
Beaver River Beavers
Coach: Gene Sundberg (36th year)
2019-20 record: 16-1 overall, 11-1 league
Roster: Lauryn Bennett (Sr. Defense/hitter); Haleigh Campeau (Sr., hitter); Alexia Clemons (Sr., hitter/setter); Chelsea Greenwood (Sr., hitter); Peyton Smith (Sr., defense); Courtney Terry (Sr., librero); Tina Boliver (Jr., setter); Emma Dicob (Jr., all-around); Alysa Evan (Jr., defense); Abigail Hazzard (Jr., Def/hitter); Avery Olmstead (Jr., hitter); Emma Roggie (Jr., hitter).
Lowville Red Raiders
Coach: Jim Rhodes (31st year)
2019-20 record: 6-12, 3-11
Roster: Katelyn Sellick (Sr., librero/setter); Olivia Baker (Jr., hitter); Amber Benedict (Jr., hitter); Eliana Bonbrest (Jr., hitter); Alexis Frappier (Jr., hitter); Jenna Freeman (Jr., hitter); Hannah Gyore (Jr., setter); Madison Hilton (Jr., hitter); Coral Israel (Jr., backline); Meredith Lovenduski (Jr., hitter/setter); Grace Myers (Jr., hitter); Megan Tiffany (Jr., hitter); Kiley Zicari (Jr., backline); Kimberlee Zehr (Jr., hitter); Peyton Cole (So., hitter).
South Lewis Falcons
Coach: Ashley Gino (11th year)
2019-20 record: 11-8, 6-6
Roster: Courtney Ebersol (Sr.); Amelia Hoffman (Sr., outside hitter); Madelyn Hoffman (Sr., outside hitter); Lauren McGuire (Sr., middle blocker); Grace Mear (Sr., middle blocker/opposite); Sophia Sabatini (Sr., setter); Emmalee Marks (Jr., middle blocker/opposite); Jada Pominville (Jr., outside hitter); Shaylagh Randall (Jr., middle blocker); Emily Wrigh (Jr., outside hitter); Skye Everson (So., setter); Leah Greene (So., librero).