Pioneer Valley Juniors summer volleyball wraps regular season

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  • Jillian Appanell, right, of Frontier Hawks A, spikes against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Morgan Martineau, front right, of Frontier Hawks A, hits against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. In the background are Abbe Roberts, left, and Tia Gottschalk. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Reilly Isler, of Frontier Hawks A, sets the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jalen Sullivan, of Frontier Hawks A, digs the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jillian Appanell, right, of Frontier Hawks A, hits against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. In the background, Olivia Rosewarne, left, and Abbe Roberts look on. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jalen Sullivan, of Frontier Hawks A, digs the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jalen Sullivan, of Frontier Hawks A, digs the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Abbe Roberts, right, of Frontier Hawks A, hits against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. Olivia Rosewarne looks on. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sophia Stilla, left, of Frontier Hawks A, hits against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. Reilly Isler looks on. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Reilly Isler, of Frontier Hawks A, digs against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Olivia Rosewarne, left, of Frontier Hawks A, defends a Westfield shot by digging the ball close to the net during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Olivia Simoneaux, of Frontier Hawks A, digs the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jalen Sullivan, of Frontier Hawks A, spikes the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Olivia Simoneaux, of Frontier Hawks A, sets the ball against Westfield during a Pioneer Valley Juniors game, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at Frontier Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 7/31/2019 10:30:41 PM
Modified: 7/31/2019 10:30:30 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Juniors summer volleyball league closed its regular season Wednesday with matches at Frontier Regional and Elms College. The top eight teams qualified for the playoffs, which will start Aug. 7. Both Frontier’s A and B teams are in the field, as is Amherst.

Frontier’s A team landed the No. 2 seed after Minnechaug beat them in the final match of the regular season 2-0 (25-19, 25-17) Wednesday at Frontier. The top seed was there for the taking after Frontier and top-seeded Westfield split their match 1-1.

“We have a lot of fun during the summer league and we take it seriously,” Frontier A’s Sophia Stilla said. “But we mostly focus on getting better for the upcoming season.”

The Frontier B team (4-4-3) locked down the eighth seed after sweeping Agawam A and Southwick on the final day. It sets up a showdown with Westfield, who didn’t lose a match all summer, in the playoffs opening round.

“When we first started summer league, we weren’t that good,” Frontier B’s Sydney Scanlay said. “But we’ve gotten better and better so I think we’re just going to play our hardest, and it doesn’t matter if we win it all. We just need to work together more as a team I think.”

Amherst earned the No. 4 seed at 6-4-2. It went 2-0 on Wednesday at Elms with wins against the Spartans and the Raiders. Ludlow will be Amherst’s opponent in the playoffs’ first round.

In addition to allowing teams to tune up for the fall, the summer league integrated new rule changes that will be used for the upcoming high school season. The MIAA moved away from NCAA rules and toward the NFHS ruleset.

“It’s not going to impact a lot,” said Sean MacDonald, Frontier volleyball coach and co-founder of the Pioneer Valley Juniors volleyball. “There are some things that are minor that are different. The casual fan that comes to a volleyball game won’t notice the difference.”

The length of a timeout was reduced by 15 seconds. Servers now have the option to let the ball drop if they don’t like the toss and re serve once per rotation.

“Personally, I’m not a fan of that because then I feel like I’ll start to overthink everything I do and think if I have a second chance I might not be good enough,” Stilla said.

Players can no longer remove any part of the uniform except shoes while in the playing area. That includes changing liberos between sets and changing from warmup shirts to jerseys.

“Instead of being able to change behind the bleachers, now we have to be completely off of the playing area,” said Frontier A’s Reilly Isler, who plays libero for the Red Hawks. “It will take time away from our warmup.”

There are harsher limits on jewelry, hair ties and body paint/glitter. Any contact with the net or cables between the poles is a fault, but players can contact the opponent’s court with hands or feet if some part is on or over the center line. Any other body part crossing the center line is illegal.

“We’re practicing these rules now so that they can prepare,” MacDonald said.

The league is also seizing the opportunity to train some new officials this summer.

“We’re also using this to make some officials better in a low-stress environment,” MacDonald said.




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