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Frontier clinches another finals berth

  • Frontier's Ella Deane (20) reacts to scoring a point against Turners Falls in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls' Emma Miner (16) passes against Frontier in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Selayna Bathurst (14) serves against Turners Falls on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls' Sienna Dillensneider (15) serves against Frontier in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport (2) serves against Turners Falls in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Tuners Falls libero Adrianna DiMaio (2) lunges to return a serve against Frontier in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport (2) tips the ball defended by Turners Falls' Emma Miner (16) in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier libero Brianna Thurber (3) lunges for a return against Turners Falls in the first set on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Selayna Bathurst (14) jumps up for a hit against Turners Falls in the first set of a WMass volleyball semifinal sweep Wednesday in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



For The Recorder
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Sean MacDonald didn’t like what he was seeing and wisely called a timeout after Frontier Regional School’s girls’ volleyball team fell into an early 10-5 hole against Turners Falls High School.

Frontier regrouped following the timeout and begin playing like a 17-time western Massachusetts champion. The Red Hawks went on to outscore Turners Falls 20-8 and win the first game en route to a 3-0 sweep Wednesday night in the WMass Division III Volleyball Tournament semifinals at Goodnow Gymnasium.

“Coach told us to remember who we are,” said senior captain Selayna Bathurst, who had three kills, four aces and six digs. “We had to hold the rope and we never gave it. We had so much energy. We came back hard.’’

MacDonald knows his team well enough to be confident it would heed his message.

“I just said to be us and that we didn’t need to do anything superhuman,” he said. “I really didn’t think we were playing like us. Our passing was off, there were some service errors, so we just needed to take a deep breath and settle down.”

Frontier (14-6) advanced to Saturday’s sectional final against Lee or Lenox.

“Being the first seed, there’s a lot of pressure on us to win, but we’re taking it with a grain of salt,” Bathurst said. “We’re excited and the pressure just makes us play better.”

The final numbers show the Red Hawks sweeping 25-18, 25-8, 25-10.

Frontier was led by Lauren Davenport. The junior captain was quite a force with 14 kills.

Another junior, Ashley Telega had an almost unheard of .714 hitting percentage, along with 11 kills. Senior captain Ela Deane dished out 36 assists with five aces and 12 digs, while junior Haley Oloski finished with eight kills.

“We tried to get off the emotional roller coaster and our kids did a nice job,” MacDonald said. “We played with a lot of energy and played well defensively.”

Frontier built on its Game 1 momentum and never let up. The Red Hawks vaulted to a 6-0 lead in the middle match and never looked back.

“We had so much energy, there was like an unshakeable confidence,” Bathurst said.

Turners Falls (18-4) never recovered from that opening game. It let Frontier dictate the tempo and had several unforced errors that turned into points for the Red Hawks.

“We came out with a lot of energy, but then it just dropped and we couldn’t hang,” Turners Falls coach Kelly Liimatainen said. “They’re a great team.”

That made the daunting task of trying to dethrone the perennial champions on their home court that much more difficult.

Davenport helped fuel that first-game comeback with several big kills as Frontier inched back from that early deficit. She has a team-leading 296 kills this season.

The Red Hawks seemed like they could sense the victory in the third game. They jumped out to a commanding 10-4 lead and were in total control.

The key to the sweep was avoiding the long volleys that took place during the early portion of the opening game. Most of those volleys resulted in points for Turners Falls until the Red Hawks got their game in full gear.

They regrouped and played like a cohesive unit with crisp passing setting up kills and forcing errors.

Turners Falls, the No. 4 seed, closed an outstanding season.

“I’m proud of these girls,” Liimatainen said. “We had a great season.”