Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball enters state final four for 20th straight season

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Mackenzie Cahan serves during their high school volleyball game against Shenendehowa at BH-BL in Burnt Hills on Oct. 24.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Mackenzie Cahan serves during their high school volleyball game against Shenendehowa at BH-BL in Burnt Hills on Oct. 24.

BURNT HILLS – It has been easy to set one’s calendar by Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s girls’ volleyball team showing up in the state final four. Gary Bynon, the coach of the eight-time state champion, said reputation doesn’t guarantee an invitation. But when round-robin semifinal play begins Saturday, it will mark the 20th consecutive year the Spartans have been there.

“It’s been 20 years, [but] it just doesn’t happen,” Bynon said.

Bynon credits the leadership shown by the team’s two seniors, Danielle DeBonis and Peyton Felix, for how well the Spartans have played since a 3-0 loss to Suburban Council rival Shenendehowa on Oct. 24.

“Where we have come since then, with the leadership of those two, has been amazing. We’re playing our best volleyball, having our best practices. We’ve come a long way,” Bynon said.

Bynon and his players know they have a target on their backs. That’s what tradition brings, but Bynon wants to make sure this team is celebrated by itself.

“This was their first sectional and regional championship, that’s this team’s moment, this team’s opportunity,” he said.

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Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will play in Class A, in which it is the defending champion and which starts at 3 p.m. It will be joined by Calhoun, Irondequoit and Cornwall. The teams with the two best records advance to Sunday’s final at 2 p.m.

Shenendehowa, Galway and Lake George also represent Section II in classes AA, C and D, respectively. Joining Shenendehowa are Corning, Massapequa and Lancaster. Joining Galway are Lansing, Port Jefferson and defending champion Portville. Joining Lake George are Harley Allendale Columbia, Living Word and defending champion Mount Academy. The Class AA and C finals are at noon Sunday, with the Class D final set for 10 a.m.

Shenendehowa made the final four last year, but didn’t advance to the final and is still trying for its first state title. Galway, also looking for its first state title, qualified in Class D last year, but lost the final to Mount Academy.


Shenendehowa is also represented in the boys’ state tournament Saturday at Albany Capital Center. The Plainsmen begin round-robin semifinal action in Division I at 10 a.m. with Massapequa and Webster. The final is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Shenendehowa last made the semifinals in 2019, but didn’t qualify for the final. It did make the final in 2017, losing to Penfield, and is searching for its first state title.


Section II will send a large number of qualifiers to the State and Federation Swimming and Diving Championships at Webster Aquatic Center Friday and Saturday.

Action begins with swimming qualifying heats at 10 a.m. Friday. The diving championship begins at 2 that day, with swimming finals slated for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Shenendehowa 200-yard freestyle relay team is ranked first on the psych sheet entering qualifying. The team of Stella Zhang, Hannah Harpootlian, Isabella Gayle and Anna Stoup had a qualifying time of 1 minute, 39.14 seconds at the Section II championships two weekends ago.

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake/Scotia-Glenville 200 medley relay team of Olympia Frisoni, Kendall Gilbert, Tia Jack and Juliet Percenti is ranked second with a time of 1:47.57.

Individually, the highest psych sheet ranking is fifth, shared by Bethlehem’s Katherine Ferreira in the 200 individual medley (2:05.75) and Niskayuna freshman Fayth Goodspeed in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.85).

Other competing relay teams by event are:

200 medley relay: Mohonasen/Schalmont (Amanda Jurgelon, Vittoria Carney, Abigail Sellnow, Olivia Streeter), Bethlehem (Courtney Sorbello, Olivia Skuza, Ferreira, Hannah Fronheiser), Niskayuna (Abigail Lyons, Goodspeed, Vera Amirbekian, Madison Wolfort), Saratoga Springs (Addison Kenny, Elaine Chen, Magdalene Trautner, Madeleine Wood); 

200 freestyle relay: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake/Scotia-Glenville (Frisoni, Lucy Catalano, Amanda Laferriere, Carsyn Bonesteel), Bethlehem (Kayleigh Bigwarfe, Sorbello, Fronheiser, Sarah Bernasconi), Saratoga Springs (Kenny, Victoria Gvozdeva, Jillian Ferrie, Wood), Niskayuna (Kaylin Schneider, Wolfort, Helen Hao, Grace Roberts); 

400 freestyle relay: Shenendehowa (Zhang, Harpootlian, Gayle, Stoup), Niskayuna (Hao, Elizabeth Tandlmayer, Lyons, Roberts), Bethlehem (Bigwarfe, Ferreira, Lauren Savage, Bernasconi), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake/Scotia-Glenville (Catalano, Percenti, Jack, Gilbert) and Mohonasen/Schalmont (Streeter, Emma Sellnow, Abigail Sellnow, Jurgelon).

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Other individual qualifiers by event are:

200 freestyle: Harpootlian (Shenendehowa), Raegan O’Brien (Troy/Averill Park/Tamarac), Morgan Lawler (Holy Names);

200 IM: Maura O’Donnell (Duanesburg/Berne-Knox-Westerlo), Stoup (Shenendehowa);

50 freestyle: Percenti (BH-BL/S-G), Roberts (Niskayuna), Jurgelon (Mohonasen/Schalmont), Wood (Saratoga Springs);

Diving: Calista Fasser (Shenendehowa), Natalie Hopper (Bethlehem), Morgan Davey (Shenendehowa);

100 butterfly: Abigail Sellnow (Mohonasen/Schalmont), Jack (BH-BL/S-G), Delaney Michels (Shenendehowa), Amirbekian (Niskayuna);

100 freestyle: Jurgelon (Mohonasen/Schalmont), Mea Amedio (Albany Academy), Harpootlian (Shenendehowa), Gayle (Shenendehowa), Lawler (Holy Names), Roberts (Niskayuna), Hao (Niskayuna), Zhang (Shenendehowa);

100 backstroke: Zhang (Shenendehowa), O’Brien (Troy/AP/Tam), Ferreira (Bethlehem), Katie Schloth (Shenendehowa), Amedio (Albany Academy);

100 breaststroke: Skuza (Bethlehem), Jack (BH-BL/S-G), O’Donnell (Duanesburg/B-K-W) and Stoup (Shenendehowa).

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Categories: High School Sports, Scotia Glenville, Sports, Sports

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