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Red Hawks make it 14 straight WMass volleyball titles

  • Frontier celebrates scoring the final point of their win against Lee for the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier celebrates their win against Lee for the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier celebrates their win against Lee for the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier celebrates their win against Lee for the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier after their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship win Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Olivia Deane (9) hits against Lee in the first set Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Olivia Deane (9) jumps up to hit against Lee in the third set Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Reilly Isler (10) returns a serve in the third set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport (2) serves in the third set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport (2) gets a kill over Lee's Jayla Speers (31) in the third set Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Olivia Deane (9) serves in the second set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Elizabeth Fuqua (22) sets the ball in the third set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Ashley Telega (1) hits against Lee in the first set Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Reilly Isler (10) makes a diving attempt for the ball in the third set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Sarah Zoly (12) serves in the second set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Olivia Deane (9) serves in the second set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport (2) hits against Lee in the first set Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Reilly Isler (10) returns a serve in the third set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier captains after their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship win Saturday in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Lauren Davenport (2) gets a kill in the third set Saturday against Lee in West Springfield, Nov. 10, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Saturday, November 10, 2018

WEST SPRINGFIELD — After winning the first two sets of Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Volleyball championship match with relative ease, Frontier Regional School found itself in quite a battle with Lee High School in the third set.

The teams found themselves locked in their first tie of the day at 22-22 and from there, a wild finish to the set ensued as both teams made great shots as well as some mistakes, which led them to still be playing with the score tied 30-30. After Olivia Deane belted her seventh kill of the day to give the top-seeded Red Hawks a 31-30 lead, Reilly Isler served the ball and an action-packed volley took place, with the teams each getting kill opportunities and other chances. Finally, a shot by Lee ricocheted into the air and appeared to be headed out of the back of the court, which would have again brought the teams into a tie. But Isler, the team’s sophomore libero, tracked the ball down and lunged for it to keep the ball alive as Frontier sent it back over the net and a hitting error by the second-seeded Wildcats sealed the deal as the Red Hawks won their 14th consecutive WMass crown with a 25-16, 25-13, 32-30 victory.

“It was wild, just so intense,” Frontier senior captain Sarah Zoly said of the final set. “Every serve, every point, it was the most intense thing I’ve ever felt.”

The final point was a fitting way to end a wild set, and ended with Isler making a great play to keep the ball alive.

“That’s kind of my job,” she said laughing. “Setters set up the play, hitters hit it, and I keep it off the floor. To me, I feel like if you think you can get it, you go for it, because you never know what you can save.”

The point helped save the Hawks from potentially losing the set and having to play a fourth set in the best-of-three match. Isler said that it was important to end it, because Lee had previously taken the Hawks to five sets when they met in the regular season.

“Lee is a really good team, and if it had gone to four or five sets, it could have ended differently,” she said. “I’m really proud that we could finish the match in three.”

Frontier coach Sean MacDonald was also pleased that his team closed it out in three. He said that throughout the regular season he tries to play some of the best competition he can in the state in order to prepare his team for high-stress moments like they endured late in the third set.

“You put it in the emotional bank and you let it gain interest and withdraw it when you need it,” he explained. “When you get into that situation again, it’s not a theory that you might be able to do it, because you’ve done it.”

While the phrase “Do your job” may be best associated with the New England Patriots, it’s exactly the formula Frontier used in the finals, as each of the players in the starting lineup played a key role at one point or another. Senior outside hitter Lauren Davenport had a huge day hitting the ball, finishing with a game-high 17 kills to go along with three aces and eight digs.

“Everyone had a really great game, today,” she said. “I don’t think anyone had a fabulous game, or a low game, we all just worked together.

Senior middle hitter Ashley Telega also filled up the stat sheet as she stood out in the victory. Telega finished with five kills, two blocked shots and a team-high eight aces, which included three in a row to help Frontier close out the first set. Telega said that as a middle hitter, she is not always asked to serve for the team, but she had been practicing her jump serve recently, and decided to pull out that weapon in the championship match.

“It’s something Lee hadn’t seen,” she said. “I’ve been practicing the top spin serve for a week or two now, and it’s really gotten better so we decided to try it out. I was really nervous, but I guess I had a good night.”

Another player who had a big day was senior setter Elizabeth Fuqua, who also filled up the stat line, finishing with two kills, two aces, four digs and 30 assists.

“I woke up this morning and was like, ‘I hope it all goes well. There’s a lot of history there, and I don’t want to ruin it.’” she explained. “I remember in the third set when it was tied at 25-25, I was like, ‘I’m making history now. This is the only western Mass. game I will ever play in again, and keeping the streak alive was really important.’”

The victory marked the fourth straight year that the Red Hawks (21-2) have beaten the Wildcats (17-4) in the finals, with three of those four coming in straight sets, including each of the past two. Frontier got off to a great start in the first set, as sophomore outside hitter Olivia Deane began the match serving and rattled off six consecutive points, which was aided by a pair of kills from Davenport and one ace from Deane. Frontier wound up building a 9-1 lead and was never really challenged in the set. In fact, each of the sets saw Frontier get off to quick starts, as the Hawks began both the second and third sets by taking a 4-0 lead.

“I would have no business asking for any better start than the one we had,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said. “All three sets, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”

After Frontier won the first set, it again jumped out to a commanding lead in the second, leading 11-4 at one point and going on to win by the lopsided 25-13 score. Frontier was so dominant for the first two sets and much of the third, that prior to Lee tying the match at 22-22 in the third set, Frontier never trailed or was tied.

Deane finished with seven kills, six aces and seven digs on the day, and senior opposite hitter Hailey Orloski had one kill, two aces and 11 digs, which led the team in that department. Isler finished with one ace and nine digs, and Zoly had one ace and three digs.

Frontier now moves on to play in the state semifinals against MIAA South Sectional champion Bourne, which defeated Case 3-0 on Saturday. Frontier met Bourne last season in the MIAA State championship match, which the Red Hawks won 3-1.