Volleyball: Experience big plus for BH-BL

Gary Bynon received an email from a former player this week, reminding him of the anniversary of Bur

Gary Bynon received an email from a former player this week, reminding him of the anniversary of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake winning the 2002 state volleyball title.

That success was the start of a run that reaches a 10th straight final-four appearance when the state girls’ volleyball returns to the Glens Falls Civic Center this weekend.

“It’s a credit to all of the kids who have come through the program,” said Bynon, whose 28-2 Spartans meet Cornwall, Rochester Mercy and Kings Park when Class A pool plays opens Saturday at 9 a.m. “You look, and all of a sudden. it’s 10 years later.”

Burnt Hills has won three state titles in its current run, and last year’s second-place finish was the third for the program since 2002.

“We’ve talked about it some, and shared the experience from last year,” Bynon said. “The biggest thing is we have kids who have been through it.

“We have 13 back from last year. They understand what this tourn­ament is about.”

This year’s team conquered a tough non-league schedule, a good deal of it without returning first-team all-state player Kaitlyn


“What’s been a nice surprise at this time of year is having Kaitlyn back,” said Bynon. “She missed a good chunk of the season with an injury. She’s back playing like when she was a first-team all-state player last year.”

Her senior classmates, Lizzy Morton and Natalie Ziskin, are two of the other key players for Burnt Hills, along with 11th-grader Siena Wilder.

“Lizzy is one of the smallest middle hitters of any team, but she really uses her quickness and her experience,” said Bynon.

“Our offense starts with Nat­alie. This is her fifth final four. She’s been our quarterback and run our stuff all year.”

Wilder also plays a big role.

“The anchor to our defense is our libero, Siena Wilder,” Bynon said. “She’s had an unbelievable year.”

Given Burnt Hills’ extensive travel during the season, the Spartans surprisingly have not gone head-to-head this season with any of the other three teams in their pool.

“Usually, we see teams we’ve played in the state tournament,” said Bynon. “We didn’t play any of them this year.

“Cornwall, we know a lot about because we played them in the semis the last two years.

“Mercy has some 6-footers and a great setter. Any team that comes out of the Buffalo-Rochester area is very good. That’s the best volleyball in the state.”

Bynon’s biggest concern is his team’s lack of size.

“We’re not a big team,” he said. “But we serve and play defense.

“You’re going to have to have to deal with our serves, and we’re going to dig the ball. We’re going to stay in points. We’ve had some amazing points this season.

“We’re outsized a lot of the time, but these kids battle and play with a lot of heart. We’re going to need performances like that throughout the weekend.”

Section II will have four teams in the tournament. Johnstown (Class B), Voorheesville (Class C) and Hartford (Class D) also qual­ified by winning regional finals last weekend.

The top finishers in pool play Saturday square off Sunday in champ­ionship matches.

In Division I boys’ play Saturday morning at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, Bethlehem faces pool-play matches against Massapequa, Oswego and McQuaid. The title game is Sunday at 4 p.m.

Categories: High School Sports

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