AGAWAM — Tuesday's MIAA Western Massachusetts volleyball seeding meeting revealed when and where teams will begin the quest for a Western Mass. championship.
In Division III, Berkshire North champion Lee's 17-2 regular season earned it a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
The No. 2 seed is the Wildcats' highest seeding since 2009. They awaits the winner of the No. 7/No. 10 game between Athol and Mount Everett, Monday Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m.
Even though Lee's notched wins against all four of their potential quarterfinal and semifinal opponents, coach John Warner said you cannot look ahead to any opponent. But, he's confident in how his team matches up with the other teams in the field.
"I've been playing volleyball for 40 years and you never take a match for granted," he said.
"On any given night you can have a poor performance and you're done. You can't look forward, but we have films on all the teams and we'll practice the strengths and weaknesses [of the teams]. That's the most amount of pre-planning we'll do."
Warner said Frontier remains the team to beat in Division III, and coming off a 3-1 loss to the Redhawks in the final match of the season, he knows any team will need a perfect game to unseat the five-time defending state champions.
Mount Greylock (15-4) follows with a No. 3 seed, also earning a first-round bye. The Mounties will face No. 6 Turners Falls (12-6), in the quarterfinals next Monday. The match is a rematch of last year's quarterfinal, which ended in a 3-2 win for Greylock.
No. 5 Wahconah also earned a first-round bye, they'll travel to face No. 4 Ware (18-1) in the quarters on Sunday night.
Berkshire South Division champion Mount Everett (10-8), earned the final seed at No. 10. The Eagles will travel to face last year's D-III runner-up Athol (12-7) on Thursday at 5 p.m.
While the Eagles are not too familiar with the Red Raiders, they will have the benefit of a healthy Kayla Krom. Krom had been dealing with a sprained ankle, but is cleared to return to practice. She's one of the Eagles' top outside-hitters, and a strong performance from her will be necessary to pull off the upset. Everett is making its first postseason appearance since 1993.
"We're approaching it as any game," Everett coach Dennis Sullivan said. "Lee's played [Athol] and I hear they have good hitters and servers. ... It's our first time in the tournament in many years. We're looking forward to it,"
In Division II, Pittsfield (9-9) earned a No. 11 seed. Berkshire South runner-up Taconic earned a No. 12 seed, clinching a postseason bid despite its 7-11 record. The Generals travel to No. 6 Amherst. The Braves travel to No. 5 Chicopee. Both games will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
For Pittsfield, its last week of the season served as a postseason warm-up. The Generals needed to win its final three matches to qualify for the tournament, including road tests against Everett and Taconic. Coach Brian Lawton said the do-or-die stretch run has his team prepared for Amherst.
"The way we responded in our last two games, against two quality teams, we were able to come up and play some really good matches with them," he said. "Even in a do-or-die match we were still going up and hitting the ball.
Lawton added that the team's aggression helped it down the stretch run and will be important against the Hurricanes.
"We have confidence in our offense and in our all-around play," he said. "Don't be tentative — go up and hit the ball. That will be important against Amherst because they have a really good defense."
Western Massachusetts Tournament Seeds
Division II: 1. Minnechaug, 2. West Springfield, 3. Longmeadow, 4. Belchertown, 5. Chicopee, 6. Amherst, 7. Renaissance, 8. Ludlow, 9. Commerce, 10. Springfield Central, 11. Pittsfield, 12. Taconic, 13. Putnam.
Division III: 1. Frontier, 2. Lee, 3. Mount Greylock, 4. Ware, 5. Wahconah, 6. Turners Falls, 7. Athol, 8. South Hadley, 9. Sabis, 10. Mount Everett.