Frontier Regional claims 10th state girls volleyball title in 5-set thriller

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  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier Regional celebrates winning the state Division 3 championship against Rockland, Saturday at Worcester State University. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Sydney Scanlon serves an ace in the fifth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane gets the match winning kill in the fifth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier wins the MIAA Div. 3 state championship against Rockland on Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier wins the MIAA Div. 3 state championship against Rockland on Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier lines up prior to their game against Rockland for the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier lines up prior to their game against Rockland for the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates a point against Rockland in the second set of the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier head coach Sean MacDonald talks to his team during a timeout in the second set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates a block point against Rockland in the third set during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set to win against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set to win against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates a point against Rockland in the third set during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier fans cheer as they reach the game winning point in the fifth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates winning the third set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates a point against Rockland in the fifth set during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier coaches celebrate after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set to win against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier players storm the court after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier players storm the court after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set to win against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2019 7:15:40 PM

WORCESTER — With the match reaching a fever pitch and both teams just two points from a state title, freshman Sydney Scanlon stepped to the service line for Frontier Regional on Saturday.

With the ball in her hands, Scanlon, roughly the same age as the streak of dominance the girls volleyball program has strung together since winning its first state championship in 2005, delivered.

She dropped an ace in deep to give the Red Hawks match point in the fifth set of the state Division 3 final against Rockland. Moments later, Olivia Deane took a feed from Reilly Isler and put down a kill to lift Frontier to its 10th state crown in program history.

The Hawks closed out an 11-25, 25-23, 25-23, 14-25, 15-13 victory at Worcester State University, taking home the school’s second state title in three years and eighth in 10 years.

“Her percentage is ridiculously high and she hits the spots we want,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said of Scanlon’s serving. “When (Rockland) called timeout at (14-13), you could see those eyes are getting really big. Relax, go serve the ball, you’ve done that 1,000 times this year. It’s kind of weird that you get to 13-13, 14-13 in the fifth set and you feel really good about a 14-year-old with the ball. That doesn’t happen every day.”

Deane, who finished with 25 kills, said there was no looking back with her big swing on match point.

“A lot of sports is faking confidence and just pretending that you’re 100-percent on it,” she said. “I just went for it. You have to go down swinging, it’s the only way to go down.”

The frantic final points in the fifth set were a far cry from how the match went early on. Rockland (24-2) looked dominant in the opening set. Middle hitter Hannah Wyllie was complemented by a dangerous outside hitter in Caroline Elie, and defensively, the Bulldogs tracked down just about everything Frontier (17-8) threw its way. That all added up to a 25-11 opening-set victory.

“We studied some film on them, but the places we thought we could exploit didn’t work out as well as we hoped,” MacDonald said. “I thought Rockland played really well. They’re obviously tough at the net. They play really good defense, picked up a lot of the stuff we put on them.”

Frontier looked much more composed over the next two sets. Isler and the back row got the ball in desirable locations on serve receive, enabling setters Scanlon and Olivia Rosewarne to dish it to Deane. The Hawks evened the match with a 25-23 win in Set 2, and replicated that in the third frame with another 25-23 victory. Senior outside hitter Jalen Sullivan put down kills on the final two points to break a 23-23 tie that had Frontier on the precipice of another state title.

“We were just saying how we’ve come back from this before, we know we can do this,” Sullivan said of the comeback.

Isler, who racked up 27 digs, said the team was able to rebound after a poor first set by simply cleaning up some inefficiencies.

“I think a lot it was settling in and we also really focused on getting our serve receive really sharp and making sure that when we were giving (Rockland) the ball, we weren’t making it easy for them to attack us with their big hitters,” the libero said. “I think that’s what changed it for us.”

Rockland pushed back in the fourth frame, using a 9-0 run late to pull away for a 25-14 victory.

Nerves were high on both sides entering the fifth set. In the Frontier huddle, MacDonald tried to settle the nerves of his young team, which features just two seniors in total — Sullivan and Kimani Topolski.

“I told them, ‘We know they’re a good team, we know this is supposed to be hard,’” the coach said. “The girls got punched in the nose in the first set and I’m just really impressed with the response from kind of a young team. Going into this fifth set, this is our first fifth set of the year. We just have to make sure that we’re sharp.”

Back-to-back kills from Deane early in the final stanza staked the Hawks to a 5-1 advantage. She powered in two aces at the service line later in the set, and the teams switched sides with Frontier holding an 8-2 advantage.

“We were lucky to have that 8-2 lead at the switch because we needed all of that buffer when we got on the other side,” MacDonald said.

Unforced errors plagued the Hawks on the other side of the net, and Rockland took advantage. Wyllie’s ace had the Bulldogs back even at 9-9, and a block from Elie gave them their first lead of the final set at 10-9. MacDonald called timeout, trying one final time to reel in his squad.

“Calm down, we know what we’re doing,” Deane recalled of MacDonald’s message. “We kind of gained confidence because we got down and came back a bunch of times previously in the match so we knew we could do it again.”

The teams traded points from there, and a Rockland error had the set even at 13-13. Scanlon rotated in at the service line, and her floater landed just inside the back line to set up match point. Isler’s backward set on a scrambled play found Deane, and the junior did the rest to secure a 10th state title.

“A lot of it is just reminding ourselves that we know what to do in these situations,” Isler said. “We have worked so many days and hours since August to make it to this point. We know how to play good volleyball.”

Sullivan finished with 14 kills, while the team got solid contributions over the middle from Charlotte Doulette (five kills), Jillian Apanell (three) and Morgan Martineau (two).

“I’m very overwhelmed and so excited,” Sullivan said. “It’s my senior year and I get to end my senior year off with a win. But I’m really sad I won’t get to play with these girls again.”

Rosewarne and Scanlon combined for 44 assists, while Deane (16 digs) and Sullivan (13) aided the defensive effort beside Isler.

“We fought so hard, didn’t let up even when we got down in the last set,” Isler said. “We kept the faith and knew that we could do it. In volleyball, you can never lose hope because no matter what happens, you can come back and win it.”




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