Lee volleyball swept by Frontier in Western Mass. Division III championship match

HOLYOKE — For the third consecutive season, the Lee volleyball team had an opportunity to unseat powerhouse Frontier in the Western Massachusetts Division III final.

But once again, the Red Hawks prevailed, capturing their 13th straight sectional crown. Frontier defeated Lee 25-23, 25-20, 25-20 at Holyoke Community College on Saturday night.

Lydia Morawiec recorded 18 digs and five kills for the Wildcats while Ahna Schlaefer added 11 kills and Anna Wang recorded 21 digs. But Lee couldn't get a rhythm going on offense, and Frontier responded to some Lee leads in the final two sets with strong comebacks.

"Our passes were not to our setter," Lee coach John Warner said. "We were unable to generate the offense that we needed to. And this is not a team that you can dump a ball on, because they're just going to jam it right down your throat. And that's essentially what they did."

Second-seeded Lee (19-2), which defeated the top-ranked Red Hawks (15-6) back on Oct. 30 in five sets, lost to Frontier in the Western Mass. final after defeating the Red Hawks in the regular season for the second consecutive year.

After Frontier topped Lee in the 2015 Western Mass. final, the Wildcats ran into a Red Hawk team with no seniors in the 2016 championship game. But Frontier, which entered the tournament with a 7-11 record last year and was seeded sixth, pulled out a five-set victory to avenge the Wildcats' regular-season triumph.

Meanwhile, on Friday for Frontier, Olivia Deane had 33 assists while Lauren Davenport recorded 13 kills and Selayna Bathurst had 20 digs and 10 kills.

"We just made a lot of errors when we played them the first time," Bathurst, a senior, said. "Service errors, hitting errors, passing errors — and our mentality was really rough at the end. And that's not the team we wanted to be."

Lee jumped out to a 13-10 lead in the first set, but Frontier stormed back and eventually grabbed a 20-15 advantage. The Wildcats tied it at 22, but Frontier escaped with the 25-23 win.

The second set looked good for Lee early as well. The Wildcats were up 13-6, but Frontier clawed back to eventually take a 17-16 lead. Lee tied it at 18, but Frontier won seven of the final nine points.

Frontier finally got off to a fast start in the third set, leading 6-1. But Lee came back and jumped ahead 19-17 before Frontier took eight of the final nine points to clinch the trophy.

"Nobody showed up to play, that's the bottom line," Warner said, repeating his frustration more than once. "That was not our team tonight."

The Red Hawks advance to the D-III state semifinals against a yet-to-be-determined opponent during this week.


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