H.S. Volleyball: Westfield holds off Frontier in battle of unbeatens

  • The ball crosses the net during the women's beach volleyball semifinal match between Austria and Lithuania at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, Saturday, June 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) Dmitry Lovetsky

Staff Writer
Published: 9/20/2021 9:21:14 PM

WESTFIELD – It’s been a gauntlet of an early-season schedule for the Frontier volleyball team. Through five matches, the Redhawks have played just about all the expected Western Massachusetts heavyweights.

While the first four matches ended in victory, Frontier suffered its first defeat Monday night in a match of arguably the top two teams in the area. Host Westfield got off to a hot start and held on over the course of four tight sets for a 25-17, 21-25, 25-20, 25-22 victory in a PVIAC Eastern League contest.

Frontier (4-1) had picked up wins over Lee, Minnechaug, Amherst and Longmeadow to open the fall campaign.

“With the schedule we’ve had to start here, to be 4-1 right now, that’s pretty good in my opinion,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said. “I think we’re capable of a little bit more than we showed tonight. Certainly don’t want to take anything away from Westfield. I feel we can play at a higher level just about across the board.”

Jillian Apanell was the top offensive force for the Redhawks on Monday, putting down 14 kills and adding a trio of blocks. Lilah Evans added 12 kills and Caroline Deane chipped in five kills, while setter Sydney Scanlon racked up 34 assists over four sets.

“I like my squad. I think we have a lot of really nice pieces on it,” MacDonald said. “So far we’ve been good at diagnosing our problems but we haven’t really been all that good at fixing our problems. But the goal always here is to have it figured out by Columbus Day or so.”

Westfield (5-0) used an 11-1 run in the opening set to turn an 11-10 deficit into a commanding lead. The Bombers took the opening frame 25-17.

Frontier got back on track in set number two, though the visitors really had to dig deep down the stretch to hold on. Back-to-back aces from Samantha Baker helped right the ship and give Frontier a 21-18 lead, and the visitors didn’t relinquish that lead the rest of the way. Strong offensive work from Evans and an Apanell ace set up game point, where Evans put down a kill to even the match via a 25-21 win.

The momentum was short-lived however, as Westfield used another big run in the third to create some separation. The Bombers kept Frontier at arm’s length to score the 25-20 win, and used the same formula to close out the match with another close win in the fourth set (25-22).

Frontier was within 22-21 in the fourth thanks to a pair of Apanell kills, but back-to-back errors ultimately sunk the Hawks.

“I tried all my coaching moves and none of them really worked so well,” offered MacDonald. “We’re still trying to work out our best lineup after losing all the kids that we did. But to struggle as much as we did at times, and still be in the match like we were, I think that’s a good sign for us.”

The Frontier service attack, which blitzed Longmeadow in an impressive win last week, managed 11 aces on the night against Westfield. Apanell and Baker combined for seven of the 11.

Defensively, libero Brooke Davis topped the squad in digs with 14, though Apanell and Baker each recorded eight. Eve Dougan had two kills and six digs on the night.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Frontier, as the club stays on the road Wednesday night for a match against Central Mass. foe Westborough.




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