Orange Volleyball

Orange’s Ashlyn Davis announces commitment to University of Lynchburg

Orange volleyball senior Ashlyn Davis formally signed with the University of Lynchburg during a ceremony at Orange High Gymnasium on Monday afternoon. This season, Davis played on the right side for an Orange team that won 19 games, its most wins since 2008. In her junior and senior seasons, Orange won a game in the state playoffs. Davis compiled 42 kills, eleven blocks, 37 digs and four assists as the Panthers earned an automatic trip to the 3A State Playoffs, where they swept Fike in the opening round. During Monday’s ceremony, Davis was joined by Orange volleyball coach Kelly Young and assistant coach Rachel Nash. She was one of seven seniors on the 2022 Orange volleyball team and the second to announce her intentions to play at the college level. Young said that Davis was one of the people who helped shaped the culture of their program. She has played five years of club volleyball as well as two varsity seasons at Orange. 

Orange volleyball sweeps Fike 3-0 in 3A State Playoffs for 19th win of season

In one afternoon, the Orange volleyball team ensured its most successful season in 14 years, set up a fourth battle against its crosstown archival and did something that the Lady Panther program hasn’t accomplished in a decade.

That’s a lot to absorb in a short amount of time. Then again, too many things going on at once has been the theme of Orange’s season.

On Saturday afternoon, Orange swept Wilson Fike 3-0 on scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-22 at Panthers’ Gymnasium in the opening round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A State Playoffs. The Lady Panthers (19-10), the #15 seed that finished second in the Central Carolina Conference, advanced to the second round to face Cedar Ridge on Tuesday night at Red Wolves Gymnasium.

After Cedar Ridge swept the regular season series from Orange, the Red Wolves defeated the Lady Panthers 3-1 in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament championship match last Wednesday. While Orange lost, they did end Cedar Ridge’s 62-set winning streak after taking the third frame.

Last year, Orange defeated West Johnston in the opening round of the state playoffs. It’s the first time since 2011-2012 that the Lady Panthers have won state playoff matches in consecutive years.

The irony of Orange’s most successful season in 14 years is that, for much of the summer, no one was sure who would lead the program once August rolled around.

Coach Kelly Young wasn’t planning on returning for a fifth season. At the end of the 2021-22 academic year, Young left Orange to teach at Eno River Academy. Originally, she wanted to join the Bobcats’ staff as an assistant coach.

“My husband and I want to expand our family,” Young said during an interview at the beginning of the year. “I love coaching but it gets tough to start choosing between your kids and your school babies.”

Young worked Orange’s summer camp in July thinking it would be her final duties with the program that she played in during the late 2000s. Yet finding a successor to Young became harder and harder as the season approached.

“(Orange Athletic Director Mike) McCauley came up to me and said ‘It’s either going to be you or me,'” Young said. “I was like “OK.” So (assistant coach) Rachel (Nash) said ‘If you do it, I’ll do it one more year.’ We have so much good talent, we couldn’t let them go without and coach. These are my girls.”

It’s a team of diverse personalities and experience. Outside hitter Allie Wilkerson (who has committed to Division III Averett University), middle blocker Erin Jordan-Cornell, setter Caitlin Carden and libero Lilly Jones have played alongside starters learning on the job all year. Freshman Aubrey Jordan, who is second on the team in kills, has been a regular starter. Setter Katie Silcott, another freshman, gets regular playing time amid a rotation that goes 12-players deep.

As Orange volleyball prepares for transition in various ways, some of the seniors have embraced being mentors for the younger players. In the case of Jordan-Cornell, she proudly embraces the role of being “a mama bear.”

In another sense, so has Wilkerson. Her 6-foot-2 younger sister, Ava, is another freshman who plays routinely.

“All of the seniors are leaders in their own way,” Young said. “We only named three captains this year, but honestly all of the seniors bring something different to the table. They’re all so different in their personalities, it’s a nice mesh. Erin is like a mama bear. Allie is like your cheerleader. Kaitlin is more reserved. Cameryn (Stewart) is your super encouraging one. She’s super positive. Ashlyn Hoffman is the feisty one. Ashlyn Davis is a cheerer. Lily Smith is a little sarcastic. They’re all fun.”

While Orange trailed Cedar Ridge by two sets last week in the conference tournament championship match, the Lady Panthers’ victory in the third set felt like a breakthrough. For starters, Orange nearly won the opening set in its first matchup against the Red Wolves on September 6. They had four set points against the Red Wolves before finally falling 30-28. Cedar Ridge took the third set 25-23. It was easily the Red Wolves’ closest match in conference play.

Most outside observers would give Orange a puncher’s chance to defeat the defending 3A State Champions on Tuesday night and end the run of the most accomplished senior class in Red Wolves’ team history, regardless of sport.

But it’s now a chance that the Lady Panthers have given themselves.

Orange Panther of the Week: Allie Wilkerson

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior volleyball outside hitter Allie Wilkerson. Recently, Wilkerson announced her commitment to Averett University. This season, Wilkerson is third on the team with 102 kills. She has amassed 32 blocks, which is second on the team. The only Lady Panther who has more blocks than Wilkerson is her younger sister, Ava. On Thursday night, Wilkerson, Caitlin Carden, Ashlyn Davis, Erin Jordan-Cornell, Lily Smith and Ashlyn Hoffman were all honored on senior night as Orange defeated Eastern Alamance in straight sets. Wilkerson had a chance to play along the back line after the result of the match became clear. Wilkerson started playing volleyball with her travel team, then with Orange Middle School. Orange now has 16 wins, its best victory total since they won 19 games in 2008. Wilkerson has played an instrumental role in Orange’s success as the Lady Panthers have earned an automatic trip to the state playoffs. Orange will host Northwood in the opening round of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament on Monday night in Hillsborough. 

Alumni Update: Scully helps Binghamton volleyball to victory in American East action

Lottie Scully: The Binghamton volleyball team dropped its first match in American East Conference play with a 3-2 loss to Maryland-Baltimore County on October 5. The Retrievers won on a score of 15-25, 26-24, 14-25, 25-22 and 15-12. Scully, a freshman, tied for season-high with five kills. She also had 43 assists, which was another season-high, with eleven digs and one ace. On Sunday, the Bearcats bounced back and defeated the New Jersey Institute of Technology 3-0 on scores of 25-22, 25-17 and 25-20. Scully had 29 assists, one ace and nine digs. Binghamton is 11-5 overall, 2-1 in the American East Conference.

Avery Miller: The Pitt Community College volleyball team had three matches over the past week. On October 3, the Fayetteville Technical Community College defeated the Bulldogs 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-23, 25-19). In four sets, Miller had eight kills and five digs. On Friday, Pitt CC bounced back to defeat USC Sumter 3-0 (25-17, 25-16 and 25-15). Miller played two sets and had three kills and two digs. Pitt Community College is 9-8 overall, 1-8 in Region X of the NJCAA.

Bryse WIlson: Wilson officially ended his season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in an 8-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on October 4. After the longest stint of his Major League career in his prior appearance, Wilson came out of the bullpen in his last game of the year. He threw three-and-one-thirds innings and gave up three runs on three hits. Wilson had one strikeouts with two walks. Wilson ends the year with a 3-9 record and a 5.52 ERA. He had 79 strikeouts with 32 walks.

Trenton Gill: Facing the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Gill found himself involved in several special teams situations punting for the Chicago Bears. He had two punts for an average of 56 yards with one touchback. He was also the holder for placekicker Cairo Santos’ three field goals, including a 51-yarder. Minnesota defeated the Bears 29-22 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Through five games, Gill is seventh in the National Football League with an average of 49.2 yards per punt. He has had six punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

Payton Wilson: For the second game in a row, Wilson amassed ten tackles for the #14 N.C. State football team in its come-from behind win over Florida State on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Wilson finished with ten tackles, including one-half of a tackle for loss. The Wolfpack prevailed 19-17 for its 14th straight home win. It was the first time in program history that N.C. State defeated Florida State three straight times.

Keshawn Thompson: The Campbell football team defeated Charleston Southern 34-28 in its Big South opener on Saturday at Barker-Lane Stadium in Buies Creek. Thompson finished with two tackles. It was the final Big South opener for Campbell, who will move to the Colonial Athletic Association next season. The Camels are 3-2, 1-0 in the Big South.

Darius Satterfield: Satterfield suited up for Elizabeth City State in its 49-0 loss to Virginia Union at Hovey Field in Richmond, VA on Saturday. The Vikings are 1-5, 1-3 in the CIAA.

Braxton Mergenthal: Mergenthal made one tackle for Hampden-Sydney in its 35-14 win over Ferrum College at W.B. Adams Stadium in Ferrum. The Tigers improved to 2-3 overall, 1-1 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Hampden-Sydney will host Averett University on Saturday.

Ivy Garner: The Liberty women’s soccer team shut out Queen’s University 2-0 at Osborne Stadium in Lynchburg, VA on Sunday. Garner started for the Flames at midfield and played 50 minutes. Liberty remains in first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 6-0-1 record. They are 10-3-2 overall.

Emerson Talley: The Division II Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer team defeated Emory & Henry 7-0 at Moretz Sports Complex in Hickory on October 5. Talley played 38 minutes for the Bears and fired two shots. Lenoir-Rhyne is in first place in the South Atlantic Conference with a mark of 6-0-2. They are 7-2-3 overall.

Orange’s Ella Wimsatt & Caitlin Carden discuss volleyball win over Person

The Orange volleyball team has officially clinched a automatic trip to the 3A State Playoffs. On Tuesday night, the Lady Panthers defeated Person 3-1 on scores of 25-7, 17-25, 25-11 and 25-19. The fourth set was tight until senior Caitlin Carden ended a long volley with a rare kill where she got an outstretched fist on a ball, which flailed over the net and inside the end line by a foot. Carden ended the night with two kills, 20 digs and eleven assists. Junior Ella Wimsatt nearly had a rare triple-double. She finished with eleven kills, ten digs and eight aces. Orange finished the first set with 12 consecutive points. In that run, Wimsatt had seven aces. Aubrey Jordan, a freshman, led Orange with eleven kills. It was the first time that Orange has swept the season series from Person since the two teams became conference rivals last year. Orange is now 13-7, 8-1 in the Central Carolina Conference. The Lady Panthers will travel to Northwood to face the Chargers on Thursday night. 

Orange’s Erin Jordan-Cornell & Aubrey Jordan discuss volleyball win over Williams

The Orange volleyball team has cemented its status for second place in the Central Carolina Conference after sweeping Walter Williams 3-0 at Panthers Gymnasium on Tuesday night. As usual, a blend of seniors and freshman combined to help the Panthers to victory. Freshman Aubrey Jordan had a career-high eleven kills. Another freshman, Katie Silcott, switched between outside hitter and setter. She finished with 21 assists and six kills. Ellia Wimsatt had ten kills. Senior Erin Jordan-Cornell had five kills as the Panthers improved to 13-7, 7-1 in the CCC. Orange also rebounded following a disappointing loss to Jordan in Durham on Monday night, a team that the Panthers had swept last month. Now, Orange will get the rest of the week off. The Panthers were supposed to face Cedar Ridge with first place on the line in the CCC on Thursday night. But the game has been moved to October 12 because of Hurricane Ian. Orange will resume its season at East Chapel Hill on Monday night in a nonconfernce game. They will return home on Tuesday to face Person. 

Orange soccer’s Tyler Mann, Cooper Zinn & Ryker Stein talk win over Northwood

For the first time since 2018, the Orange men’s soccer team has defeated Northwood. At the same time, the Panthers’ chances of making the 3A State Playoffs for the first time since 2017 are suddenly alive and well. The Panthers got a goal from Ryker Stein off a free kick from Cooper Zinn with 9:46 remaining as Orange defeated Northwood 3-2. Senior Tyler Mann finished with two goals, including the opener for the Panthers, who have won three in a row. Zinn added another goal to put the Panthers ahead 2-1 to close the first half. The Panthers lost a 3-1 lead after they surrendered two goals in the span of 48 seconds in the second half. Orange has won three in a row in Central Carolina Conference play and are 4-5 overall. Earlier this week, the Panthers defeated Person 4-0. Zinn, Bryan Membreno, Manny Mil Cruz and Angel Arroyo all scored for the Panthers. Coming up tonight, Orange will travel to Southern Durham in a non conference matchup. Orange is going for its first four-game winning streak since 2017.