Defending state volleyball champ Frontier defeats Lenox in W. Mass. tournament


SOUTH DEERFIELD -- Much like its quarterfinal meeting last postseason, Lenox High School knew it needed to play a near flawless match to stay with two-time defending state champion Frontier Regional School.

Unfortunately for the Millionaires, their serving deserted them on Thursday, and the top-seeded Red Hawks rolled to their 13th consecutive postseason victory, 25-5, 25-16, 25-7, in the semifinals of the Western Massachusetts Division III Volleyball Tournament at Vi Goodnow Gymnasium.

"We didn't serve well," said Lenox head coach Ed Paquette, whose squad committed eight service errors and could only manage one service run beyond three points. "A lot of them came on the first service from a girl. With rally scoring, if you serve three times you get the advantage for your team, but our serves weren't good. Serves weren't good, and passes weren't good. We never got our offense going."

Lenox (15-5) took a brief early lead in the opening game, before Frontier quickly regained the advantage. The Millionaires had two chances to break the Red Hawks' momentum and string together a few points to close the gap, but both serves wound up the net, the second error increasing Frontier's lead to 10-4.

That's when senior All-State libero Ali Durant stepped to the service line and reeled off 12 consecutive points, three via aces, to put the Hawks in command, 22-4.

After a few exchanges of serve, Frontier closed out the set when reigning Gatorade Mass. State Player of the Year Cassidy Stankowski ripped a kill down the middle.

The Millionaires fell behind 12-3 in the second set, but a tip by Emma Jackson picked up a point and helped them eventually close the gap to three (16-13), behind a four-point service run from Suzanne Woller and Makayla White's three-point run.

Lenox's undoing in the set was five service errors, and Frontier finally seized control when Sarah Woodward served for three points to increase the lead to 22-15. After and exchange of serves, Durant served for the final two points.

Lenox wouldn't go away easily, as it grabbed a 3-1 lead in the third set, but the Red Hawks' serving was simply too much. All-State selection Julia Wan took the line with Frontier trailing 3-2 and, helped by two aces and three Stankowski kills, left with the Hawks ahead 8-3. Stankowski later took the line at 10-5 and served for five straight points, then Cassidy Ciesluk added three points as head coach Sean Macdonald emptied his bench. Backup middle hitter Alli Bardwell closed out the match for Frontier with a kill.

Liz Mitts finished with three kills and three digs, Rachel Cogswell collected six assists and Sophie Silverstein contributed two kills for Lenox.

"I think they're better than they were last year," said Paquette of Frontier, which goes after its eighth consecutive Western Mass. title Saturday at Holyoke Community College. "It looks like they have more balance, at least from what I saw [Thursday]."


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