Suzies stand between Hawks and yet another state final
Frontier senior Sarah Woodward has been a tower of power in the postseason, and her Red Hawks teammates from South Deerfield hope her riun continues tonight in state volleyball semifinal action against the Sutton Suzies at Hudson High School.
Frontier's Cassidy Ciesluk (17) is a tower of power at the net for the tourney-tested Red Hawks.
Frontier Regional School has made the state tournament seem like an annual part of its schedule — the Red Hawks are making their ninth straight trip to the states. Conversely, Sutton High School is completing the ninth season of its program’s existence.
Thus, the schools will have to learn about one another on the fly tonight at 7 when they meet in the semifinals of the MIAA Division III State Girls’ Volleyball Tournament at Hudson High School.
The winner of tonight’s match will play for the state championship on Saturday at noon at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. Fairhaven High School and 2012 state finalist Lynnfield High School play in the other semifinal Thursday night at 7 at Taunton High School.
The Suzies (17-4) are certainly built for a championship run, with six seniors who have been with the program since junior high school.
Their front line is loaded with experience. Outside hitter and captain Jenna Louw is the top option, while middle hitter Erin Messier — who had 12 kills in the CMass final — is another viable candidate for several swings. Messier, however, missed part of the match with an injury and won’t be 100 percent tonight. She’s expected to play.
Fellow middle hitter Kate Hession, who will get some looks as well, is a solid defender (five blocks in CMass final). Julia Rabuffo contributed eight kills on Saturday and will also get regularly involved in the offense, as will junior outside hitter Ally Hester.
Setter Aly Gramstorff (15 assists Saturday) is the catalyst of the offense, while Abby Donovan is the libero. Sophomore opposite Taylor Dunster will also come off the bench.
Sutton did catch a break during the Central sectional, as regular powers Millis and Millbury were knocked out early, but the Suzies earned their spot in the states and one can bet the house that Frontier won’t take anything for granted.
The Red Hawks (18-4) are clearly battle-tested, having played a predominantly Division II schedule, and there’s no question this team is in postseason mode — especially at the service line. Their 63 aces in three tournament games is proof that if anyone plans to beat them, their serve reception needs to be top-notch.
Cassidy Ciesluk leads the way with 18 aces. Sarah Conlisk is next with 12, Emily Woodward has 11 and Haley Dacyczyn eight.
Sarah Woodward has continued her stellar season, both offensively and defensively. She has totaled a team-high 27 kills in eight sets and 14 digs in the postseason. Ciesluk has been equally consistent with 25 kills and 13 digs, while Conlisk (12 kills), Remi Quesnelle (seven) and Courtney Newsome (four) have both played solidly at the net during the postseason when their respective numbers have been called.
“I’m proud of my team’s performance in the postseason to this point,” said Frontier head coach Sean MacDonald. “We need to stay the course and continue the things that got us here. ... We don’t need to turn ourselves into a new team to win moving forward. We just need to be ourselves and play our game.”