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Hawks top seed, 3 other local teams in field

This may have been the worst-kept secret in Western Massachusetts sports.

Frontier Regional School, which went 18-1 against a schedule that included eastern Massachusetts Central sectional Division II power Medfield High School, EMass D-III power Academy of Notre Dame (Hingham) and two matches against defending WMass D-II champion Longmeadow High School, was seeded No. 1 the WMass Division III Girls’ Volleyball Tournament on Thursday.

The seeds for the Division II and III fields were announced during the annual WMass Tournament Committee meeting at Turners Falls High School by tourney director Deb Loomer. The Red Hawks topped a 13-team field that featured four local teams — Mahar Regional School, Turners Falls High School Athol High School were also seeded in the bottom half of the bracket, which allows them to avoid Frontier until the finals, if one of them can advance that far.

But this is a tournament that has belonged — literally — to the Red Hawks, who have won seven consecutive championships and are primed and ready to make it eight with reigning Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year Cassidy Stankowski healthy and ready to go.

Frontier’s only loss this season was a four-setter to Notre Dame of Hingham, which went 20-0 and was seeded No. 1 in the Division III North sectional — a game that Stankowski never played in due to resting an injury.

Stankowski and the two-time defending state-champion Red Hawks will have a few extra days to rest as they were one of three top teams to earn a first-round bye. They’ll host a quarterfinal match Monday night at 6:30 against the winner of Saturday night’s match between No. 9 Sabis International Charter School and No. 8 host Ware High School.

Should the Red Hawks advance as expected, they’ll host a Wednesday-night semifinal (also at 6:30). The Western Mass. final is scheduled for Nov. 10 at 4 at Holyoke Community College’s Bartley Center.

Mahar (14-5) was seeded second and also received a bye and will host a quarterfinal match Monday night — quite possibly against Athol High School.

The Red Raiders (13-6), seeded seventh, are scheduled to host No. 10 Eathampton High School (15-3) Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in a first-round match. The winner earns a trip to the Grzesik-Bixby Complex to take on Mahar.

Turners Falls High School (9-9), meanwhile, was seeded sixth and will entertain No. 11 seed Belchertown High School in a first-round match on Saturday at 4 p.m.

If the Indians can avenge their three-set loss to the Orioles and advance, they’ll make the journey to Lee to face unbeaten and third-seeded Lee High School (19-0) Monday night at 6:30.

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