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Hawks sweep Notre Dame, advance to another state final

  • Above, Frontier’s Lauren Davenport (2) jumps up for a hit over Notre Dame blockers Angie Nguyen (15) and Emily Richard (17) Wednesday in Fitchburg. Below, Frontier’s Ashley Telega (8) tips the ball past Notre Dame. RECORDER STAFF photos/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Lauren Davenport (2) hammers a kill over Notre Dame blocker Emily Richard (17) Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Sarah Zoly (12) serves against Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Ashley Telega (8) sends a back set over the net while Ella Deane (20) looks against Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Ashley Telega (8) hits the ball past Notre Dame blockers Dennise Annan (29) and Kate Scarano (30) Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier competes against Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates its 3-0 win over Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates its 3-0 win over Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Lauren Davenport (2) serves against Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Ashley Telega (8) tips the ball over the net against Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Selayna Bathurst (14) serves against Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Ashley Telega (8) tips the ball past Notre Dame Wednesday in Fitchburg. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Thursday, November 16, 2017

FITCHBURG — Another undefeated team with state-championship aspirations got its crack at Frontier Regional School Wednesday night.

And as the script has so often gone over the past two decades, the Red Hawks did not author a pleasant introduction.

Frontier moved one step away from a potential ninth state title in program history with an absolutely dominant performance. Four days removed from a 13th consecutive WMass championship, the Hawks again proved itself at the state level. The result was a 25-14, 25-14, 25-17 sweep of North champion Academy of Notre Dame (Tynsborough) in the MIAA Division III state semifinal played at Fitchburg High School.

“We’ve started playing a little better the last couple of weeks,” admitted Frontier coach Sean MacDonald. “It’s a nice time to do it.”

Frontier (16-6) advanced to the MIAA Division III title match for the eighth consecutive season. The Red Hawks will meet South champion Bourne High School (25-2) Saturday at Worcester State University at 2 p.m.

Notre Dame dominated its run through the North sectional tournament, sweeping all four postseason matches via 3-0 wins. But the Lancers (23-1) certainly didn’t face a team like Frontier.

Lauren Davenport put down 19 kills to go with just two errors, showcasing herself with arguably her most dominant hitting effort of the entire year. Selayna Bathurst managed 12 kills and 16 digs in a busy all-around night, while senior setter Ella Deane dished out 37 assists.

It was Davenport who led the charge, however, especially early.

“She really came out strong and found that groove,” said Deane of Davenport. “It was so exciting to see her driving balls to the floor. They weren’t even touching them (defensively).”

MacDonald was impressed with the play of his team’s kill-leader.

“Davenport had a really nice night,” he lauded. “She was hitting hard and hitting in, and that was a tough combo for NDA.”

Notre Dame, playing in the state semifinals for the first time since 2009 against a Frontier team that has dominated to the tune of seven straight wins in the round entering Wednesday’s contest, received a cold reality from almost the jump set. It came in large part thanks to Davenport, who wasted little time exerting her dominance on the left side of the floor.

The junior outside hitter slammed down balls with authority, taking feeds from Deane and leaving no doubt against an overmatched Lancers back row that struggled to find setter Kate Scarano with passes.

“You always want to make a point,” said Davenport of her performance. “I thought we had a really good showing against a team we’ve never played before.”

Davenport amassed eight kills and an ace in the opening stanza, a resounding 25-14 victory for the Red Hawks. At one point, Davenport put down four kills in a five-point span, pushing the advantage to 12-5 and forcing the first Notre Dame timeout of the night.

Hailey Orloski (three kills) mixed in a kill and Ashley Telega (six kills) added a block, but it was Davenport’s set to shine, and she ultimately put down game point with another thunderous kill.

The second set saw the full arsenal of Frontier offensive weapons get into the mix. Davenport got the Hawks off and running, smacking three kills early to stake the team to a quick 8-7 advantage.

From there, Orloski put down a kill, as did Telega and Bathurst to make it a 20-13 lead and force another Notre Dame timeout. The success was infectious, however, as a Sarah Zoly service run that featured an ace extended the lead all the way to 24-14. The Lancers couldn’t track down a loose ball on game point, giving Frontier a second consecutive 25-14 win to put it one game away from a sweep.

The Hawks left no doubt about it in the third frame. A Davenport kill quickly made it 10-4, while a Bathurst kill and a Telega block had Frontier smelling the finish line up 18-7.

Notre Dame rallied late with five straight points to give itself a chance, but Frontier’s lead proved too big in a 25-17 win.

“It’s really interesting and exciting to play a new team,” said Deane of the Lancers. “We focused on specific players of theirs. They do a lot of tipping plays so we changed some things around defensively to try and slow that down.”

Frontier now sets its sights on a Bourne team that defeated central Mass. champion Hopedale High School, 3-1, in the other semifinal Wednesday night. Bourne defeated defending state champion Joseph Case High School in the South sectional final. Case knocked off Frontier in last year’s title-match.

After a brutal regular-season schedule really challenged the Red Hawks, MacDonald said his team is now seeing the fruits of those labors.

“This is where it pays off,” he said of the tough slate.

All three divisions will play championship matches at Worcester State on Saturday.