Frontier girls volleyball sweeps into final
Kate Harper of Frontier Regional plays the ball as Cassidy Stankowski looks on during the Red Hawks' 3-0 victory over Lenox in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament semifinal in South Deerfield.
SOUTH DEERFIELD — Most teams face adversity, or at least a challenging match or two, in their path to championships. The Frontier Regional girls volleyball team is not most teams.
The Red Hawks reached their ninth straight Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship game with an easy 3-0 semifinal win over Lenox (15-5) on Thursday
The two-time defending state champ won 25-5, 25-16, 25-7.
The top-seeded Red Hawks (20-1) will face Northern Division rival and No. 2 Mahar (16-5) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Holyoke Community College. Mahar beat No. 3 Lee 3-2 Thursday.
Senior co-captian Cassidy Stankowski dominated for the Red Hawks with a game-high 10 kills, seven digs and three aces.
“I wouldn’t say we played our best game today, we made some improvements, but we still have a lot to work on and we’ll get there,” Stankowski said.
The Red Hawks exerted their dominance from the opening set. They built a solid 9-4 lead in the opening moments, then broke it wide open by winning the next 13 points.
Frontier received a boost from co-captain Ali Durant (six aces overall), who took all but one serve during the 13-point stretch and stymied Lenox’s defense with four aces.
“I thought Ali Durant served well all match long,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said. “She’s the big piece of our puzzle, everyone thinks Cassidy’s a comforting force on the floor, but it’s also Ali.”
Stankowski closed the set out with an emphatic kill.
“We came out and played the way we played, and the tone was set,” MacDonald said.
The second set started similarly to the first set as Frontier built a commanding 14-4 lead, which culminated with a Stankowski ace.
“Cassidy doesn’t have to get kills to help us,” MacDonald said. “Cassidy passes really well, she plays great defense and serves well.”
But the Millionaires made a run when MacDonald subbed some reserves in.
Lenox tallied 10 of the next 13 points to cut the deficit to 17-14.
However, the Red Hawks bounced back with an 8-2 run behind strong play from senior Kate Harper, who recorded three kills during the stretch.
“I think I just fed off everyone else’s energy,” Harper said. “That’s when I started getting into it.”
Harper finished with nine kills.
“Kate’s been hitting the ball well for us all year long,” MacDonald said. “She’s a big reason we’re back in the finals.”
The third set went more smoothly for Frontier as MacDonald played some of his substitutes in the easy 25-7 victory.
Co-captain Tori Whitney (nine assists, four assists) registered two kills and three assists in the set, while Stankowski slammed four kills and added an ace.
Emma Contois chipped in eight assists and four digs.