Frontier Regional girls volleyball team wins fourth straight state title
The Frontier Regional School girls’ volleyball team erupts in celebration moments after winning their fourth consecutive Division III State Volleyball championship Saturday with a 25-20, 25-15, 20-25, 25-22 victory over Fairhaven High School at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHBOROUGH — Sure, the Frontier Regional girls volleyball team came into the season having won three straight Division 3 state titles, but the Red Hawks still felt like they had something to prove.
Namely: No Cassidy Stankowski, no problem.
On Saturday, the Red Hawks used a combined effort from all seven players who were on the court en route to a 25-20, 25-15, 20-25, 25-22 victory over Fairhaven in the state final at Algonquin Regional.
Frontier became the first Franklin County team in any sport to win four consecutive state titles.
“A lot of people didn’t think we could get here, but we all knew that we could win,” Red Hawks libero Haley Dacyczyn said. “Cassidy is an amazing player and you can’t take that away from her. I think the difference this year was that we didn’t have that go-to person. If we had a big point to win, we needed to figure out who was on. We couldn’t just go to Cassidy. We got really close as a team and it was an entire team effort, even the girls on the bench, there are some really good players there too.”
Frontier senior outside hitter Sarah Woodward admitted that the doubt brought onto the team by the graduation of Stankowski from the past three state title champions helped fuel the Hawks.
“Honestly, the only reason we are here today is because we were pushed by people’s doubt of us,” Woodward began. “This whole season we were told that we wouldn’t win western Mass., we wouldn’t win the states, we wouldn’t do very well. Then, after we didn’t win the league, we wanted this that much more. We wanted to prove people wrong. We worked hard all season and I’m in total shock right now.”
Woodward led the team with 15 kills and added 11 digs, while Cassidy Ciesluk finished with 12 kills. Emily Woodward finished with a team-high 40 assists, Dacyczyn collected a team-leading 18 digs, Remi Quesnelle paced the team with four aces and added five kills, Sarah Conlisk finished with nine kills and three digs, and Courtney Newsome added four kills.
“We have so many different hitters, it’s like we’re all equal,” Newsome said. “Last year was different, because we had Cassidy and she was so much better than everyone else. Now, we’re all so equal, there’s not one person that controls everything.”
One major factor entering the game was how the Red Hawks (20-4) were going to handle Fairhaven outside hitter Katie Leidhold. While she did get her share of highlight-reel kills, the Hawks held her to just 10.
“I feel like we did OK against her,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said. “We didn’t stop her, but nobody is going to stop her.”
The match started out evenly, with neither team putting together any long string of serves in the first set. The largest lead belonged to Fairhaven, which went up 13-10 following a kill by Macy Roderick. That prompted a timeout from MacDonald, and the speech sparked the Hawks, who tied the score at 16 and then took control of the match behind four consecutive service points from Sarah Woodward. With Frontier leading 24-20 and Dacyczyn serving, Ciesluk had one of her 12 kills to close out the first-set win. Ciesluk led the team with five kills in the opening set.
The momentum carried over into the second set, when Frontier took control early and was never really threatened, winning 25-15. Ciesluk had four more kills in the second set, while Woodward chipped in three.
“I was really nervous,” Ciesluk said of the start. “I was so nervous, I don’t really even remember the first set. We knew they were going to be a really tough team, so coming out and winning the first two sets was really awesome.”
Frontier looked like it was on its way in the third set with a 15-10 lead, but Fairhaven (22-2) clawed its way back for a 25-20 win.
“I was really nervous,” Conlisk said. “I thought if we didn’t win this one, we might not win the last one. I just wanted us to push, push, push, and give it everything we had.”
Frontier got a huge boost in the fourth set as Quesnelle and Ciesluk combined to win five points on serve to stake the Hawks to a 9-4 lead. Fairhaven came back and took a 15-14 lead, but Quesnelle served five straight points to put Frontier up 20-15. The Hawks never trailed again as Emily Woodward ended the match with an ace.
“This one is really sweet for me,” MacDonald said. “There’s no All-American on this team. There’s no Gatorade Player of the Year on this team. There’s just a bunch of regular, pretty good players that worked hard and worked well together as a team. And there’s some really good players on the bench that you didn’t see today.”
Sarah Woodward and Dacyczyn are the only two seniors who saw action.