Div. 5 volleyball: Frontier overcomes adversity to reach state final

  • Frontier players and fans celebrate winning 3-0 against Mount Greylock during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier fans celebrate winning 3-0 against Mount Greylock during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier players and fans celebrate winning 3-0 against Mount Greylock during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Lilah Evans (7) hits against Mount Greylock in the third set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Sydney Scanlon (2) passes against Mount Greylock in the third set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Samantha Baker (14) serves against Mount Greylock in the third set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Caroline Deane (11) lunges for the ball against Mount Greylock in the third set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Lilah Evans (7) serves against Mount Greylock in the third set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Elise Friedrichs (3) jumps up to block against Mount Greylock in the third set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Sydney Scanlon (2) serves against Mount Greylock in the second set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Samantha Baker (14) passes against Mount Greylock in the second set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Brooke Davis (10) serves against Mount Greylock in the second set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Brooke Davis (10) passes against Mount Greylock in the second set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Elise Friedrichs (3) hits against Mount Greylock in the second set of the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinal match Tuesday night at Chicopee Comp. Photo by Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2021 9:08:04 PM

CHICOPEE — The Frontier volleyball team knew it might experience some adversity for the first time this postseason in the MIAA Div. 5 State Tournament semifinals on Tuesday against Mt. Greylock.

They just didn’t know how much.

Five points into the match, Frontier star hitter Jillian Apanell went down with an injury that knocked her out for the remainder of the night. That left Frontier without its leading point scorer. 

Despite losing Apanell, the Redhawks cruised to a victory in the first set. The second and third sets weren’t as easy, with No. 14 Greylock pushing Frontier as hard as its been pushed in a long time, but the Redhawks ultimately kept their composure and pulled out a 25-9, 25-19, 25-23 sweep at Chicopee Comprehensive High School to move onto the state finals.

No. 2 Frontier will face the winner of the other semifinal between Bourne and Paulo Freire in the state title match, at a date and time to be determined.

“It’s a nightmare scenario,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said of losing Apanell. “She’s a big, big component of what we do. It’s a big piece of offense to make up on the fly. We’ll see how she is. If I have to build an Iron Man suit in a cave somewhere to get her back on the court, I’ll do it. Credit to everyone, especially Caroline Deane, stepping up big time when we needed it. I’m proud of the whole team.” 

Deane was called upon to step in for Apanell, and more than held her own. The sophomore finished with a team-high 15 kills, many coming in big spots to keep the Redhawks (19-4) alive in the later sets. 

“Usually I go in on the right side but it was one of those situations where you feel like everything is falling apart,” Deane said. “I knew I had to go in there and be calm and focused. I knew there was a job that had to be done and I knew I had to do it. It was a great opportunity for me but obviously a tragedy for the team.”

While Frontier lost Apanell early, it found a way to cruise to a 25-9 win in the opening set. The Redhawks scored the opening 12 points of the frame behind three aces from Eve Dougan, and ultimately went ahead 18-1 after a pair of Deane kills and an ace by Brooke Davis. Dougan closed out the set with a kill to give Frontier a dominant 1-0 lead. 

It looked like a different Mount Greylock (21-3) squad took the court in the second set. The Mounties went ahead 15-11, forcing MacDonald to use a timeout. 

“We were making a lot of errors,” Deane said. “[MacDonald’s] message was to play the way we know we can. When we got out there, there’s no other time to fight back. It was a mindset switch, nothing technical.” 

The message resonated, as the Redhawks scored seven straight points — three off Deane kills — to take an 18-15 lead. Dougan tallied a pair of kills late and Lilah Evans put down three aces to give Frontier a 25-19 second-set win. 

“We’ve been nervous about what’s going to happen when we are challenged and down,” Deane said. “What’s most important about today is even when we’re in a rut or out of sorts, we can fight back and keep pushing. That’s something you need in these playoff games. It’s great going into the state championship after a hard fought win.” 

The Mounties were no strangers to being down 2-0. They trailed Turners 2-0 in the quarterfinals but stormed back and took the final three sets to move on with a 3-2 win. 

Leading 23-17, the Redhawks surrendered five consecutive points to bring Greylock within one, 23-22, and keep hopes alive for yet another dramatic comeback. 

Dougan made sure that wouldn’t happen however, smashing a kill to close out a 25-23 set win that sent Frontier to its ninth state championship match in the last 12 years. 

“It’s exciting but crazy to think we’ve been in the state championship so many times,” Deane said. “I’ve never been to a state championship so it’s a crazy feeling when you know you contributed and are part of the machine that got us here. I’m so thankful for my teammates. We have so much chemistry and know we can fight through anything.” 

Sydney Scanlon finished with 26 assists and five aces in the win. Dougan put down seven kills and three aces and Elise Friedrichs smashed three kills. 

For MacDonald, the work done in practice prepared his squad for the challenges they faced on Tuesday. 

“I’m so proud of them,” MacDonald said. “There’s a lot of kids who didn’t play today who helped prepare us in practice. This is why we split the team up in practice because we want everyone getting experience with each other and make sure the first time a [group of] six are out there isn’t in a game. The work they’ve put in really showed tonight in some tough circumstances against a good team that’s playing well.”


Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy