The Broadalbin-Perth High School volleyball program celebrated the careers of its two seniors Olivia Casey and Kayla Weaver on Wednesday night following a 3-1 victory over Johnstown. It was all about friendships and family during a post-match ceremony in the BPHS gymnasium.
Teammates, classmates, family, and fiends gathered in a semi-circle in front of two chairs for the honored athletes. The group waited patiently while Casey spoke with a college coach (SUNY Delphi) on hand to meet with her and watch the match. Casey, who plans to play in college, and who has been nursing a foot injury since the midpoint of the season then picked up her crutches and made her way over to the ceremony.
Set on the floor in front of Casey and Weaver were two wooden crates, one for each of them, filled with gifts such as snacks and chocolate candies, as well as balloons, fuzzy slippers and bathrobes (that Coach Mike Cavello joked were taken from the Hilton). Each of the seniors’ varsity teammates then took turns reading what they had prepared for the occasion. There were stories from events at school, volleyball games, tournaments, road trips, and stories about concerts at SPAC, and adventurous car rides to work. Some of the stories were even put to rhyme. What was obvious when all was said and done amid the laughter, tears, and hugs was that the team was letting Casey and Weaver know just how much they appreciated and respected what the two of them meant to the BPHS volleyball program, the friendships they shared, and the family they made along the way.
“The friendships we made,” said Casey when asked what she will remember most about playing volleyball at BPHS. “The bonds we made are the craziest. We became a family, more than just close friends.”
Casey will miss the remainder of the high school volleyball season, but according to Broadalbin-Perth coach Mike Calvello, will be back playing when volleyball club season begins in January. Until then she’s present at every practice and game to lend advice to her teammates including her co captain Weaver, who also reflected on what she will remember most about her high school volleyball career.
“Honestly, meeting my teammates,” Weaver said. “Off he court is best. They keep me sane on and off the court. We’re like family.”
The Lady Patriots will need the leadership of their seniors with sectionals beginning next week. The Lady Patriots have proven in the past that senior leadership can carry them far into the playoffs. Two of the last three seasons, Broadalbin-Perth has reached the state championships. Casey began her varsity career as a sophomore and played for the 2015 team that made it to the Section 2 Class C final four at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It’s tough seeing her hurt,” Coach Calvello said of Casey. “It’s her senior year and tonight there was a college coach in the stands. She’s handled it well, and she always has a great attitude.”
Weaver was a call up from the junior varsity team for the 2015 sectionals and was there at the 2015 state championships, although she didn’t play in the tournament, she has had to fill a very important role on the team, one where only a few have excelled, as the teams’ starting setter.
“Kayla has worked the hardest out off anyone the past two years,” Coach Calvello said. “Being the teams starting setter she took that responsibility to heart. It’s been great to have both girls on the team. They’re great teammates and they have the right attitude for the game.”
Weaver’s play at setter was a good example to follow, especially for Lily Mitchell, who is in her first season at the varsity level and is learning the position. The two of them teamed up for 13 assists in the Lady Patriots 25-18, 18-25, 25-20, 25-9 victory over Foothills Council rival Johnstown.
Lady Patriots remain unbeaten in Foothills South Division
The Johnstown Lady Bills gave Broadalbin-Perth a good fight on Wednesday and had a lead in all but the fourth and final game. Johnstown led 12-9 in the first game on the strength of the service game by Sadie Blowers and Mackenzie Ward, but unforced errors kept the Lady Bills from maintaining their serve and gave BPHS a chance to take advantage. Sydney Rogers served the Lady Patriots into the lead, and Madison Fariello and Lily Mitchel maintained it for the serving of Tesa Brody, and the hitting of Eliana Frasier, who finished off the opening game win. Frasier had five kills in the set including the last two.
The second game featured five ties and three lead changes as the two sides fought to gain momentum. Blowers serve and the hitting of Janay Douglas and Jordyn Stoutner pushed the Lady Bills in front 15-11. Rogers serve drew BPHS even at 15-15, but unforced errors effected the Lady Patriots as well, and Johnstown kept the lead behind the serve of Ward and the hitting of Douglas and Amber Tesi. Stoutner finished off the Lady Bills win with a kill and then a pair of points off serve.
The third game was pivotal. Broadalbin-Perth built a 15-5 lead behind the serve of Lily Mitchell and the hitting of Rogers and Cassy Bown. Nine straight points by Rogers at one point gave BPHS an 11-3 advantage, but the lead was short-lived. When Lady Bills senior Alexys Hutchins stepped to the line and reeled off eight points including five aces, and with kills by Douglas and Sydney Darling cut the lead to a single point, 15-14. An unforced error on a hit out-of-bounds put the ball in Brody’s hands and the junior put one more point on the board for a 17-14 BPHS lead. A kill by Madison Fariello on a remarkable assist by Weaver where she managed to balance herself while setting near the sideline before going out-of-bounds, inched BPHS closer to the win. A pair of kills by Bown pushed the lead to 23-17, before the junior middle hitter eventually served out the game three victory.
“We can’t give up six points and a big lead like that,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Mike Calvello said. “It just snowballed on us. But we dug in and recovered and that’s a credit to them. We have to play a lot better than we did tonight.”
The fourth game was all BPHS. Frasier started it off with five points off her serve. Fariello continued it with six from her serve building a 12-1 Lady Patriots lead. Kills by Brody and Adrienne Morreale kept Johnstown from gaining any momentum, and five kills including the last two by Bown ended the drama and kept the Lady Patriots undefeated in the Foothills Council South Division with one game left to play.
“It was a very ugly match,” Coach Calvello said. “I don’t know what it was but we just didn’t play well. We have sectionals coming up next week and we need to play better.”
Lily Mitchell led BPHS with 16 service points. Eliana Frasier added 11 points, Sydney Rogers had 10 points, and Madison Fariello chipped in with nine points and 13 digs. Frasier led with 15 digs. Cassy Bown led the Lady Patriots with eight kills. Frasier and Tesa Brody had four kills each.
Alexys Hutchins led Johnstown with nine service points, Sadie Blowers, Janay Douglas, and Zoe Petrie had six points each. Douglas and Jordyn Stoutner had five kills each for the Lady Bills.
Broadalbin- Perth (10-2 Foothills Council) will wrap up the league season with a match at Scotia- Glenville High Scholl on Friday. Johnstown hosts Amsterdam at the Warren Elementary School gym on Friday with scheduled 6pm start.
When I first saw Olivia Casey play volleyball she reminded me of former Lady Patriots standout Chelsea LeBlanc. Casey showed the same determination and heart. I often found myself thinking “that play should not have happened,” or “that ball should have hit the floor,” when time and again she would hustle across the court for a dig that kept a play alive and eventually lead to her team scoring a point. She’s even once executed something I never saw Chelsea do: a back court kill. Her dedication to the game will carry her beyond the high school level.
Kayla Weaver reminds me of Gabby Smith, who was the setter for the 2014 and 2015 BPHS state final four teams. Weaver has shown that same dedication and work ethic required to fill the role that Smith once held, and the qualities she has shown have helped the Lady Patriots keep their winning edge. Any team would be lucky to have Weaver and Casey as part of their teams. As I’m sure their BPHS teammates will attest, the two of them are great teammates, and through all the stories, good times, smiles and tears, great friends.