Class C volleyball: Frontier’s WMass title streak reaches 17 with sweep of Easthampton (PHOTOS)

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  • Frontier Regional swept Easthapmpton to win the 2022 Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. It was the Redhawks’ 17th sectional title in a row. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier Regional swept Easthapmpton to win the 2022 Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. It was the Redhawks’ 17th sectional title in a row. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier senior Eve Dougan sends the ball over against Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Katleyn Matin attacks the ball against Frontier during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton finished as the runners up Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. It was the Eagles’ first appearance in a final STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier Regional swept Easthapmpton to win the 2022 Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. It was the Redhawks’ 17th sectional title in a row. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Emily Kostek, right,  sends the ball over against Frontier during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier’s Caroline Deane, right, attacks the ball against Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier’s Eve Dougan saves the ball back into the Redhawks cout against Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Kaylie Downie, right, and Kaelin Damon celebrate a block with thei against Frontier during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Sofia Faginski rolls a shot over against Frontier during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier’s Jillian Apanell attacks the ball against Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier’s Katie DeMaio jumps up for a block during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Maggie Barr attacks a set against Frontier during the Western Massachusetts Class C girls volleyball championship game Sunday in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/30/2022 5:45:54 PM
Modified: 10/30/2022 5:45:34 PM

CHICOPEE – Frontier Regional winning a Western Massachusetts girls volleyball championship sometimes seems inevitable.

The top-seeded Redhawks swept No. 2 Easthampton on Sunday at Chicopee Comp to claim their 17th sectional title in a row. That causes celebration but creates expectation. No victory happens by default.

“It’s kind of a lot to live up to. Western Mass. championships have been won for as long as I’ve been alive, which is really crazy to think about,” Frontier senior Jillian Apanell said. “We don’t want to be the team to mess it all up. But with this team and this culture, I’m not scared.”

Apanell showed her fearlessness at the service line in the third set. She served for 12 straight points, firing home nine aces that inflated a 10-5 lead to 22-5 and all but sealed the title. Frontier won the third set 25-7.

The captain finished with 10 aces and 12 kills in a double-double.

“In a game like that, in a setting like that, you just have to kind of go for it,” Apanell said. “You can’t really be scared in that situation.”

Both teams needed the early part of the match to settle in. Easthampton (14-7) was appearing in its first sectional final ever but took a 7-4 lead early in the first set.

The Redhawks (20-1) regained the advantage 10-9 on a Caroline Deane kill and closed out the set 25-16. Both Deane (four aces, four digs) and Eve Dougan (two aces, team-high six digs) put down eight kills each. Setter Sydney Scanlon directed the offense with 28 assists.

“It's really important that we keep our energy up the whole time. I think that having good energy helps everyone play really well and keep their nerves down, like not let nervousness take over,” Dougan said. “I always want to be a person that makes everyone feel comfortable.”

The Eagles discomforted Frontier. They trailed 11-10 early, but Scanlon served four aces in a row to push the Redhawks lead out to 17-10.

“Playoff experience for us, we don't have as much experience as Frontier does,” Easthampton coach Molly Jacobson said. “We took on the pressure a little bit more than Frontier knows how to do.”

Easthampton closed the back to 22-18 on a Maggie Barr block and forced a Frontier timeout.

Barr led the Eagles with five kills, four blocks and two digs. Kayley Downie pulled up 12 digs, while Erin Teague distributed six assists.

The Redhawks scored three of the next four points to close the set 25-19.

“It's the first time Easthampton volleyball’s ever been in the Western Mass. finals. They're extremely proud of themselves, as they should be, and I'm extremely proud of them,” Jacobson said. “It's awesome looking forward that we have the possibility of playing Frontier again in the state tournament.”

The Eagles were the No. 10-ranked team in the latest Division 5 power rankings. That would mean at least one home game with an eye toward a potential Redhawks rematch. Frontier, which lost in the state final last season, should be the No. 1 seed when the state brackets are released this week.

“I have a lot of confidence in the team and people on the bench,” Frontier coach Sean McDonald said. “I wasn't too stressed out. I thought it was gonna sort itself out, and it did.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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