Red Hawks cruise to final, 3-0

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Next stop: the Bartley Center.

Frontier Regional School earned what seems to be its annual pilgrimage to the spacious gymnasium on the Holyoke Community College campus by rolling to a 25-7, 25-8, 25-19 Western Massachusetts Division III Girls’ Volleyball Tournament semifinal victory over Lee High School Wednesday evening at Goodnow Gymnasium.

The top-seeded Red Hawks (17-4) advance to Saturday’s 4 p.m. WMass final against Northern Division rival and third-seeded Athol High School with the opportunity to win their ninth consecutive WMass title. Athol (20-1) knocked off second-seeded Sabis International Charter School in Wednesday’s other semifinal.

Frontier was dominant in a four-set win over the Wildcats in the their Oct. 3 meeting at Goodnow (25-13, 25-13, 16-25, 25-6), and the Red Hawks won this rematch in similar fashion, totaling 25 aces as a team and needed just 52 minutes to finish the job.

“Our serving was so good that even if it wasn’t an ace, we kept getting free ball after free ball back, and we didn’t allow them to get into their offense,” said Red Hawks head coach Sean MacDonald.

Cassidy Ciesluk staked the Hawks to a 5-1 lead in the first set with a kill and three aces. The Wildcats were able to cut the lead to three (6-3) on an ace from Alyssa Kelly, but Frontier rode a five-point service run from Emily Woodward (19 assists) to extend the advantage to 13-4.

At 16-6, senior libero Haley Dacyczyn stepped to the line and rattled off eight straight points — two aces — to get the Red Hawks to set point. Then Ciesluk finished off the set with a kill.

Frontier kept its foot on the accelerator in the second set, racing out a 14-2 lead. Ciesluk fired home two kills in the early going, then took the line at 6-2 and served for seven aces during an eight-point run that gave control to the Red Hawks.

Frontier head coach Sean MacDonald began to make regular substitutions, including giving senior outside hitter Sarah Woodward (three kills) the rest of the night off.

The Red Hawks continued to lead by double digits and Rachel Cialek finished off the set by serving for three straight aces.

Lee was able to grab its first lead of the match in the third set, but never led by more than one and Cialek again ripped off three consecutive aces to put Frontier ahead to stay at 9-6. The Wildcats tried to keep the set within reach and kept it within two, 20-18, before Frontier was able to pull away at the end. Backup hitter Alyssa Ouellette capped off the match with a block of Lee senior captain Katie Morin, and the Wildcats were unable to return the ball.

Ciesluk used her incredibly effective jump serve to record 10 of the Red Hawks’ aces. She also served a solid 93 percent for the match and had five kills. Cialek finished with six aces. Dacyczyn added three aces.

“If we served like we did tonight, we wold have beaten Minnechaug twice,” quipped MacDonald, referring to Frontier’s two losses to the eventual Eastern Division champions. “The serving looked great today.”

Sarah Conlisk collected four kills, while Olivia McCullouch chipped in three kills and Kimmi Logan added three digs for the Red Hawks.

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