Hawks move to final
HUDSON — One more win, and Frontier Regional School will hit the trifecta.
The Red Hawks went on the attack from the outset and never allowed Archbishop Williams High School of Braintree to gain any kind of momentum, as it rolled to a 25-14, 25-9, 25-14 victory in the semifinals of the MIAA State Division III Girls’ Volleyball Tournament Wednesday at Hudson High School.
Frontier (22-1) will go after its third consecutive state championship Saturday against Lynnfield High School in a rematch of last year’s semifinal, won by the Hawks in three sets. Match time is set for noon at Northborough’s Algonquin Regional High School.
Frontier coach Sean MacDonald didn’t take any chances in this one, as his squad continually hammered away at the Bishops, attacking the outside at will. The start wasn’t great, as the Hawks committed unforced errors on the first three points, but Julia Wan’s tip off an AW return got the ball into the hands of setter Tori Whitney, who rattled off seven straight points to put Frontier in front, 8-3.
The Red Hawks continued to maintain a lead of five to seven points before Whitney extended the lead to 19-11. AW closed it to six (20-14), but when Sarah Woodward stepped to the service line, she served out the set with help from three kills from senior All-State selection Cassidy Stankowski (16 kills, seven digs), the last a vintage blast that found nothing but floor.
Wan (eight kills, three blocks) was the catalyst late in the opener with two monster blocks to help keep serving rallies going.
“Julia’s blocking was the best I’ve ever seen it and that really helped us,” said Stankowski of the senior All-State middle hitter. “She’s been working on it day in, day out in practice and really came through with it.”
“Julia has really become a strong player at the net,” said MacDonald. “She’s tough. She blocks well, she’s been hitting the quick sets well, and she’s keeping opponents honest. They can’t just go outside and try to block Cassidy.”
Whitney and Woodward helped spark Frontier to a 9-1 lead, while Stankowski led the attack with four more kills in that stretch. After Katryna Veasey got two points back for the Archies, Wan got to the line at 10-3 and served for four points to open up a double-digit lead.
At 14-4, Kate Harper recorded a kill, then served for four more points, including a kill. Conlisk and Stankowski had consecutive kills and Harper also had an ace in the run. During that run, AW head coach Tricia Lewis threw up her hands as if to say, “What can we do to stop them?”
Unfortunately for the Archies, there was little they could do to stop the Red Hawks during this 58-minute match.
Frontier cruised through the rest of the set as Whitney served for three points to reach set point. Then an AW serve went long to end the set.
The Archies finally got rolling early in the third set, taking a quick 4-0 lead, but Whitney — with help from Woodward, Wan and two AW errors — served for five consecutive points and quickly erased the deficit to a 5-4 lead. Woodward served for three points, including an ace, to make it 9-5, then the Hawks kept AW at arm’s length with fabulous defense and three timely kills from Stankowski. Once it got to 19-13, Woodward went on a three-point service run, then after a point from AW, Wan served for the final three points, including a serve that wasn’t returned to close it out.
Whitney had a tremendous match, registering a game-high 24 assists to go along with five aces. Woodward added five kills.
“Julia, Tori and Sarah have really progressed since seventh grade,” said MacDonald. “The progression they’ve made has been so impressive.”
Now it’s back to Northborough for an opportunity to complete the rare triple. And if the Red Hawks are confident that they can get it done, it’s completely understandable.
“All of us want that three-peat so bad,” said Stankowski, “and we’re going to make it happen.”
Don’t doubt it.