Hawks roll, 3-0
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SOUTH DEERFIELD — Last year, Sean MacDonald was unhappy with his squad’s serving against Lenox Memorial High School in the quarterfinals. This year, he was much happier.
“I thought our serving was really the key. It was pretty solid,” said the Frontier Regional School head coach after his two-time defending state champion Red Hawks served for 19 aces as a team and rolled to their 13th consecutive postseason victory, a 25-5, 25-16, 25-7 rout of the Millionaires in the semifinals of the Western Massachusetts Division III Volleyball Tournament at Goodnow Gymnasium.
Frontier (20-1) actually trailed a few times during the 55-minute match, but as quickly as the top-seeded Hawks trailed, they immediately retook the lead and never looked back to advance to the WMass finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Holyoke Community College against second-seeded Mahar Regional School, which needed five sets to beat No. 3 Lee High School.
Tori Whitney got things going with four service points, including two aces, to put the Hawks up 6-2, and it was 10-4 when All-State libero Ali Durant — all 4-foot-11 3/4 of her — took the service line. The senior proceeded to reel off 12 consecutive points, three of them aces, to break the set open, 22-4.
Durant finished the match a perfect 17-for-17 from the service line with a team-leading six aces.
All-State outside hitter Cassidy Stankowski (10 kills, seven digs, three aces) put an exclamation on the set by hammering home a kill on game point.
After an uneven start to the second set, Sarah Woodward served for five straight points to put the Red Hawks in front, 9-2.
Frontier then committed eight unforced errors during the middle part of the set and Lenox crawled back to within three (18-15), but Woodward added three more points on serve to extend the lead the 22-15. After one more exchange of points, Durant served for the final two points and Kate Harper’s kill closed it out.
Lenox grabbed a 3-1 lead in the third set but the Red Hawks’ serving was simply too much. All-State selection Julia Wan took the line with Frontier trailing 3-2 and, helped by two aces and three Stankowski kills, left with the Hawks ahead 8-3. Stankowski later took the line at 10-5 and served for five straight points. Then Cassidy Ciesluk added three points as MacDonald emptied his bench. Backup middle hitter Alli Bardwell closed out the match for Frontier with a kill.
Whitney totaled nine assists, four aces and two kills, Harper collected nine kills and Emma Contois totaled eight assists and four digs for Frontier.
Liz Mitts finished with three kills and three digs, Rachel Cogswell collected six assists and Sophie Silverstein contributed two kills for Lenox.
“I think they’re better than they were last year,” said Millionaires head coach Ed Paquette of the Red Hawks, who will go after their eighth consecutive WMass title Saturday. “It looks like they have more balance, at least from what I saw (today).”