×

Division 3 girls volleyball: Frontier sweeps Lee for 13th straight WMass championship

  • Frontier's Ashley Telega (8) tips the ball past Lee blockers Bailey Thomas (27) and Lydia Morawiec (18) in the second set of the Western Mass Division 3 championship at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier senior Selayna Bathurst serves during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Saturday at Holyoke Community College. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates after winning over Lee for the Western Mass Division 3 championship at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Ashley Telega (8) celebrates with her teammates after winning over Lee for the Western Mass Division 3 championship at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier huddles up at the start of their match against Lee for the Western Mass Division 3 championship at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates their Western Mass Division 3 championship win over Lee at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport gets a kill past Lee blockers Jayla Speers (31) and Suriana Lee (10) in the third set of the Western Mass Division 3 championship at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



For the Gazette
Sunday, November 12, 2017

HOLYOKE — It may have gone down as a sweep, but lucky No. 13 was anything but easy for the Frontier Regional girls volleyball team.

Second-seeded Lee pulled the score even late in all three sets, pushing the perennial powers to the brink. But the top-seeded Red Hawks rose to the occasion when necessary.

The result was a 25-23, 25-20, 25-20 victory over the Wildcats, lifting Frontier to its 13th consecutive Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship, Saturday night at Holyoke Community College’s Bartley Center.

“It felt good that we had the ability to make those runs at the end,” said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald, whose team beat Lee in the finals for the third consecutive season. “It showed we have some fight when things are on the line.”

The Red Hawks (15-6), who have won 18 sectional championships in program history, will play Notre Dame of Tyngsboro (23-0), in the state semifinals, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Fitchburg High School.

The victory over Lee mirrored last year’s postseason script. Frontier lost to the Wildcats in the regular-season finale two weeks ago, but avenged the loss in the title match. That was also the case a year ago, when Lee entered the finals with momentum after a regular-season victory, only to fall in the championship match.

Frontier senior setter Ella Deane said her team’s loss to Lee (19-2) on Oct. 30 was not indicative of the squad she’s played with all season long.

“I don’t think we showed who we were in that match,” said Deane, who registered 33 assists in Saturday’s win. “We were definitely really shaken by the loss. But we knew exactly what we needed to fix, the specific things that went wrong the first time. So we really cleaned those things up in practice.”

Frontier (15-8) received contributions from throughout the lineup against Lee. With the score knotted at 22-22 late in the opening set, Deane and Hailey Orloski scrambled to keep a point alive that was eventually rewarded when Lee put the ball into the net on the other end. On set point, Orloski put down a kill with authority for a 25-23 victory that set the tone.

Junior Ashley Telega (six kills) helped Frontier climb out of a sizeable hole in the second set. Lee jumped out to a 13-6 advantage, but Telega recorded three kills in a four-point span, and added a block to pull the Hawks within 15-14.

With her play settling the offense down, junior Lauren Davenport got her swing on track late in the frame. Davenport, who finished with a team-high 13 kills, put down back-to-back kills to stake Frontier to a 19-18 lead.

With Deane at the service line, the Red Hawks rattled off five consecutive points. Orloski closed out the set the same way she did the first, slamming a kill to give Frontier a 25-20 win and a commanding 2-0 advantage.

“We dug a big hole there in the second,” MacDonald said. “That quick-set to Ashley was pretty effective. We really tried to deal with (Lee middle blocker) Bailey Thomas at the net, give her more things to worry about. We worked on all that stuff in practice and were able to put it to good use.”

The Wildcats didn’t go away in the third set. Lee led 20-18 after Ahna Schlaefer (11 kills) slammed one down.

But Frontier answered with three straight points, all coming on Lee hitting errors that forced coach John Warner to call timeout.

Frontier didn’t allow a point the rest of the way, however, and closed on a 7-0 run. Davenport served up her lone three aces of the night in the final four points of the match, including a championship-clinching ace that skimmed the net and fell helplessly in the middle of the Lee defense to seal a 25-20 win.

“We call those dirty aces,” MacDonald said. “It’s a tough way to lose if you’re Lee because there’s really nothing you can do about it. It’s a bummer that it ended that way for them.”

Frontier senior Selayna Bathurst put down 10 kills and recorded a team-high 20 digs. Key contributions also came from Sarah Zoly (three aces, 15 digs) and Grace Randall (seven digs), while Abbe Roberts was a key serving option and Reilly Isler came off the bench to aid the back row defensive effort.

“Listen, there’s not a guaranteed outcome here when we get to the Western Mass. finals,” MacDonald said. “(Lee) just beat us in five (sets). But the girls worked hard this year and I’m proud that they were rewarded with a title.”

Deane agreed that despite over a decade of WMass dominance, the Hawks did not expect to simply be handed a title.

“We talk about how this has to be about us wanting to win and going out there and doing what we have to in order to do that,” she said. “We carried that with us tonight.”