H.S. VOLLEYBALL: Double digits! Frontier rallies past Rockland for 10th state title

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates winning the MIAA Div. 3 state championship against Rockland on Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Sydney Scanlon serves an ace in the fifth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane gets the match winning kill in the fifth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier wins the MIAA Div. 3 state championship against Rockland on Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier wins the MIAA Div. 3 state championship against Rockland on Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier fans cheer as they reach the game winning point in the fifth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane (9) attacks at the net against Rockland as Jillian Apanell (12) looks on during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane (9) jumps to block against Rockland’s Hannah Wyllie (14) in the third set during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Jalen Sullivan (11) hits over Rockland’s Hannah Wyllie (14) and Jessica DeMarco (1) in the third set of the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • At top, Frontier’s Sydney Scanlon serves against Rockland. At middle, Frontier’s Jalen Sullivan (11) hits over Rockland’s Hannah Wyllie (14) and Jessica DeMarco (1). At bottom, the Red Hawks pose with their trophy and MIAA championship banner following a 3-2 win in the Div. final. STAFF PHOTOS/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane (9) sets the ball against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Reilly Isler serves against Rockland in the first set of the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier head coach Sean MacDonald talks to his team during a timeout in the second set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane (9) tips the ball over Rockland’s Hannah Wyllie (14) and Madison Murphy (4) in the third set of the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Jalen Sullivan serves against Rockland in the third set of the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane (9) gets a kill against Rockland in the third set during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Jalen Sullivan (11) attacks at the net against Rockland’s Jessica DeMarco (1) and Julia Elie (5) in the third set of the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane passes in the fourth set against Rockland during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Above, Frontier’s Jillian Apanell (12) attacks over Rockland’s Hannah Wyllie (14) and Darcy McGuirk (3) during the fifth set of the Red Hawks’ 3-2 victory in the MIAA Div. 3 state final on Saturday at Worcester State University. Below, the Hawks hoist the program’s 10th state championship. STAFF PHOTOS/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier celebrates a point against Rockland in the third set during the MIAA Div. 3 state final Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier players storm the court after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set to win against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier reacts after scoring the final point in the fifth set to win against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier coaches celebrate after scoring the final point in the fifth set against Rockland to win the MIAA Div. 3 state championship Saturday at Worcester State University. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2019 6:55:04 PM

WORCESTER — With the match reaching a fever pitch and both teams just two points from a state title, freshman Sydney Scanlon stepped to the service line for Frontier Regional School on Saturday.

With the ball in her hands, Scanlon, roughly the same age as the streak of dominance the program has strung together since winning its first state championship in 2005, delivered.

She dropped an ace in deep to give the Red Hawks a 14-13 lead in the fifth set of the MIAA Div. 3 final against Rockland High School. Moments later, Olivia Deane took a feed from Reilly Isler and put down a kill on championship point to lift Frontier to its 10th state crown in program history.

The Hawks closed out a wild 11-25, 25-23, 25-23, 14-25, 15-13 victory at Worcester State University, taking home the school’s second state title in three years and eighth in 10 years.

“Her percentage is ridiculously high and she hits the spots we want,” began Frontier coach Sean MacDonald of Scanlon’s serving. “When (Rockland) called timeout at (14-13), you could see those eyes are getting really big. Relax, go serve the ball, you’ve done that 1,000 times this year. It’s kind of weird that you get to 13-13, 14-13 in the fifth set and you feel really good about a 14-year-old with the ball. That doesn’t happen every day.”

Deane, who finished with 25 kills in yet another standout performance, said there was no looking back with her big swing on match point.

“A lot of sports is faking confidence and just pretending that you’re 100-percent on it,” she said. “I just went for it. You have to go down swinging, it’s the only way to go down.”

The frantic final points in the fifth set were a far cry from how the match went early on. South section champ Rockland (24-2) looked dominant in the opening set. Big middle hitter Hannah Wyllie was complemented by a dangerous outside hitter in Caroline Elie, and defensively, the Bulldogs tracked down just about everything Frontier (17-8) threw its way. That all added up to a dominant 25-11 opening-set victory, leaving MacDonald & Co. searching for answers — and in a hurry.

“We studied some film on them, but the places we thought we could exploit didn’t work out as well as we hoped,” MacDonald said. “I thought Rockland played really well. They’re obviously tough at the net. They play really good defense, picked up a lot of the stuff we put on them.”

Frontier looked much more composed over the next two sets. Isler and the back row got the ball in desirable locations on serve receive, enabling setters Scanlon and Olivia Rosewarne to dish it to a heating-up Deane. The Hawks evened the match with a hard-fought 25-23 win in Set 2, and replicated that in the third frame with another 25-23 victory. Senior outside hitter Jalen Sullivan rose to the occasion late in the third set, putting down kills on the final two points to break a 23-23 tie that had Frontier on the precipice of another state title.

“We were just saying how we’ve come back from this before, we know we can do this,” said Sullivan of the comeback.

Isler, who racked up 27 digs, said the team was able to rebound after a poor first set by simply cleaning up some inefficiencies.

“I think a lot it was settling in and we also really focused on getting our serve receive really sharp and making sure that when we were giving (Rockland) the ball, we weren’t making it easy for them to attack us with their big hitters,” the libero said. “I think that’s what changed it for us.”

Rockland, which dominated its opposition in dropping just one set all postseason before Saturday’s state final, pushed back in the fourth frame, using a 9-0 run late to pull away for a comfortable 25-14 victory.

Nerves were high on both sides, with a fifth set upcoming and the state title on the line. In the Frontier huddle, MacDonald tried to settle the nerves of his young team, which features just two seniors in total — Sullivan and Kimani Topolski.

“I told them, ‘We know they’re a good team, we know this is supposed to be hard,’” the coach said. “The girls got punched in the nose in the first set and I’m just really impressed with the response from kind of a young team. Going into this fifth set, this is our first fifth set of the year. We just have to make sure that we’re sharp.”

Back-to-back kills from Deane early in the final stanza staked the Hawks to a quick 5-1 advantage. She powered in two aces at the service line later in the set, and the teams switched sides with Frontier holding a commanding 8-2 advantage.

There was no chance it was going to be an easy finish, however. 

“We were lucky to have that 8-2 lead at the switch because we needed all of that buffer when we got on the other side,” MacDonald said.

Unforced errors plagued the Hawks on the other side of the net, and Rockland took advantage. Wyllie’s ace had the Bulldogs back even at 9-9, and a block from Elie gave them their first lead of the final set at 10-9. MacDonald called timeout, trying one final time to reel in his squad.

“Calm down, we know what we’re doing,” recalled Deane of MacDonald’s message in the huddle. “We kind of gained confidence because we got down and came back a bunch of times previously in the match so we knew we could do it again.”

The teams traded points from there, and a Rockland error had the teams even at 13-13. Scanlon rotated in at the service line, and her floater landed just inside the back line to set up match point. Isler’s backward set on a scrambled play found Deane, and the junior did the rest to secure a 10th state title.

“A lot of it is just reminding ourselves that we know what to do in these situations,” said Isler of the final points. “We have worked so many days and hours since August to make it to this point. We know how to play good volleyball.”

Sullivan finished with 14 kills in the victory, while the team got solid contributions over the middle from Charlotte Doulette (five kills), Jillian Apanell (three) and Morgan Martineau (two).

“I’m very overwhelmed and so excited,” said Sullivan. “It’s my senior year and I get to end my senior year off with a win. But I’m really sad I won’t get to play with these girls again.”

Rosewarne and Scanlon combined for 44 assists, while Deane (16 digs) and Sullivan (13) aided the defensive effort beside Isler.

“We fought so hard, didn’t let up even when we got down in the last set,” Isler offered. “We kept the faith and knew that we could do it. In volleyball, you can never lose hope because no matter what happens, you can come back and win it.”

MacDonald said winning never gets old, especially this year’s title — one of the more unexpected in his tenure with the program.

“We’ve had a lot of wins and some close wins (over the years),” he began. “I really feel like, sometimes we win and it’s kind of expected. This year, from what we lost and what we had back, playing new positions and a lot of new people on the floor... this is probably going to be in my top 5 sweetest wins. This is up there, just when you kind of handicap it. What were the expectations on August 22 when we started? To get here, a lot of stuff was going to have to go right. I’m really proud of them. Impressed with what they’ve done, especially against such a talented team.”

Frontier improved to a whopping 10-2 all time in state finals.




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