WMass Div. 3 Volleyball: Frontier to meet familiar foe Lee in final

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane (9) hits past Lenox blockers Camryn O’Dell (2) and Kayanna Black (6) during semifinal action earlier this week. The Red Hawks go for their 15th straight sectional title this afternoon when they play No. 1 Lee at 2:30 p.m. in West Springfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Jalen Sullivan and the Frontier volleyball team will meet Lee for the fifth straight year in the Division 3 final this afternoon at West Springfield High School. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2019 6:52:16 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 6:52:02 PM

For the fifth year in a row, Frontier and Lee are the last teams standing in the Western Mass. Div. 3 volleyball field.

The Red Hawks (12-8) have defeated the Wildcats (18-2) in the Div. 3 finals the past four years, and are looking to make it five straight this afternoon in the finals at 2:30 p.m. at West Springfield High School.

Frontier is the No. 2 seed in the field while Lee locked up the No. 1 spot in the tournament, setting up a collision course to once again meet in the finals.

A win this afternoon would mark a whopping 15 consecutive sectional titles for the Red Hawks. Turners Falls was the last program to defeat Frontier in a final, dating back to 2004.

“They’re the cream of the crop in the Berkshires, and they have been for several years,” said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald of Lee. “They’ve gone through a coaching change, and Julia (Warner) has been doing an excellent job after (her father) John (Warner) retired.”

At the beginning of the season, there was a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Red Hawk program. 

Frontier graduated the majority of its starting lineup from a year ago and had its ups-and-downs playing a grueling regular-season schedule.

Like good teams do, the Red Hawks hit their stride toward the end of the season and have made quick work of the Div. 3 field through two matches, sweeping No. 7 Easthampton in the quarterfinals and also winning 3-0 over No. 3 Lenox in the semifinals.

Lee has been a powerhouse throughout the season, dropping just two matches before beating No. 8 South Hadley, 3-0, in the quarterfinals and earning a 3-1 win over No. 4 Mount Greylock in the semis.

One of the Wildcats losses did come at the hands of Frontier, as the Red Hawks handily won the regular-season match, 3-0, just two weeks ago in South Deerfield.

MacDonald knows his squad will be facing a more prepared and focused Lee team the second time around. 

“I’m expecting a real battle with Lee,” MacDonald said. “Whatever happened here a few weeks ago (a 3-0 Frontier sweep), it’s just like the streak of championships we have, we’ll all be starting the score at 0-0 come Saturday.”

Junior Olivia Deane has been a star for Frontier this season, and she’s become a force on the outside as the team’s No. 1 hitter. She had 13 kills in the semifinals win and 16 kills against Lee in the regular-season meeting.

Jalen Sullivan, the team’s second option at outside hitter, has also had a great season and must be accounted for in today’s match. Reilly Isler uses her athleticism in the back row as the team’s libero, and she finished with 17 digs against Lee in the regular season. Isler is also a force at the service line. Olivia Rosewarne and Sydney Scanlon should both see time setting, and the pair have done the job all season finding the likes of Deane, Sullivan and Charlotte Doulette.

For Lee, Suriana Lee returns as setter and is perhaps the most dangerous all-around option for the Wildcats. Kylie Joyce and Lizzy Brown are threats as hitters for top-seeded Lee.

“I’m expecting them to put up a good fight,” MacDonald said, “and I’m expecting us to do the same.”

Frontier has had great success against the Wildcats in the finals in recent history. The last two years have been Red Hawk sweeps but in 2016, Lee took them to five sets. Frontier also swept in 2015.

The Division 2 final between Minnechaug and Longmeadow will open today’s doubleheader at noon.

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