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Stankowski repeats as Mass. Player of Year

  • KEVIN GUTTING<br/>Frontier sophomore Cassidy Stankowski, left, spikes over Megan Houff, center, and Olivia O'Hara of Longmeadow in the first game of their match at Longmeadow Thursday.

    KEVIN GUTTING
    Frontier sophomore Cassidy Stankowski, left, spikes over Megan Houff, center, and Olivia O'Hara of Longmeadow in the first game of their match at Longmeadow Thursday.

  • KEVIN GUTTING<br/>Frontier sophomore Cassidy Stankowski, left, spikes over Megan Houff, center, and Olivia O'Hara of Longmeadow in the first game of their match at Longmeadow Thursday.

Cassidy Stankowski delivered one final parting shot to the high school volleyball world on Wednesday, in a six-year varsity career that has been filled with them.

The Frontier Regional School senior was named the 2012 Gatorade Massachusetts Volleyball Player of the Year Award winner for the second straight season.

The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court.

Stankowski, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter, led Frontier to a 23-1 record and its third consecutive Division III State crown. She recorded 185 kills, 127 digs, 27 aces and 13 blocks as an outside hitter. Those numbers are down a bit last season, due to her missing some time with an injury, and with the tough competition she was up against, Stankowski admitted that she was surprised on Wednesday to find out that she had in fact been named the winner.

“I was in complete shock because of what I was up against,” she said.

Red Hawks head coach Sean MacDonald also acknowledged the other candidates, but admitted that he felt like Gatorade got it right.

“I was a little bit nervous because of how her stats stacked up because she did miss some time,” he said. “But in my opinion they got it right. I think most teams without a dog in the fight knew what she was capable of. It’s definitely well deserved. And I know her hitting numbers stand out, but some of the other coaches that were interviewed about her also talked about how well she played defense, or her ability to set the ball. Cassidy is a naturally gifted player that has coupled that with tons and tons of hard work, and I think she’s the best all-around player in the state.”

It’s been that way for some time. MacDonald said he felt as though she has been one of the best players in the state since her sophomore season, and her career numbers back that up. In her six seasons, Stankowski registered 1,483 kills, 1,151 digs and 364 aces, while her teams compiled a 137-6 record in that time.

Frontier captured the WMass Division III title in every season during her career and advanced to state final four times, winning the last three. In November, she was named to the Mass. Volleyball Coaches Association All-State Team for the fourth consecutive season.

MacDonald said that Stankowski’s stats are likely unreachable for anyone at the school, and now that her high school career is in the rearview mirror, it’s not easy to reflect on it without writing a novel.

“It’s tough to put in a few words what Cassidy has accomplished at Frontier,” he explained. “Those numbers may never be touched. Our program is still growing, and I don’t know that we will have another six-year varsity player.”

Always the humble one, Stankowski also acknowledged that none of the achievements she has been recognized for would have been earned had she not had a great team around her.

“It’s not only about me, but it’s about my teammates,” she said. “I’ve been lucky to have some great teammates over the years. And it’s really going to be surreal next fall to not put on a Frontier jersey, because that’s been my life for the past six years.”

Stankowski didn’t just excel on the court — she has maintained a 3.66 grade-point average while playing two varsity sports. She was also recognized by Gatorade for her volunteer work at a homeless shelter and food bank, as a peer mentor, and other community service initiatives in association with her church.

“I really try hard to get all my work done, because that is the most important thing. Volleyball comes after all that. I’m a student-athlete first,” she said, before joking and sounding like every other high school student, “and my mom and my dad are always making sure I get all my work done.”

Stankowski signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play volleyball on an athletic scholarship at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain next fall. MacDonald said that while a memorable high school career has now come to a close, it’s far from the end for Stankowski.

“She’s just a great young woman, and she’s got a lot going for her in the future,” he concluded. “It’s going to be exciting to watch her and see how she does at the next level.”

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