State Div. 3 Volleyball: Frontier looking to ace Advanced Math and Science

  • Frontier’s Reilly Isler serves against Lenox during the WMass Div. 3 semifinals. Isler and the Red Hawks play Advanced Math and Science in the state semifinals, today at 4 p.m. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane hopes to lead the Red Hawks to the program’s 10th state title. They open that road in the state tournament today. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier setter Olivia Rosewarne (23) makes a play earlier this postseason against Lenox. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2019 8:35:11 PM
Modified: 11/12/2019 10:59:44 PM

Another year, another new opponent for the Frontier Regional School girls volleyball team to face in the MIAA Division 3 tournament.

After running through the Western Mass. Div. 3 field, capped off by a 3-0 sweep of top-seeded Lee in the finals, the Red Hawks (13-8) begin their state tournament this evening when they take on Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School (AMSA) in the semifinals.

The match tips off at 4 p.m. at Tantasqua Regional High School in Fiskdale.

“I feel we’re about as good as we can be right now,” Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said. “We’re healthy. There’s nothing holding us back. We don’t know a lot about them. You can have all the information you want but you have to play. It’s not the best team that wins, it’s the team that plays best who wins.”

Being in the state tournament isn’t anything new for MacDonald and his Frontier squad. The Red Hawks have been there 15 years in a row after consistently dominating the Western Mass. field come postseason time. They’ve also dominated in the state semifinal round, posting an 11-3 mark during their current run of 15 straight sectional titles. Those three losses came in 2008 (North Reading), 2009 (Case) and last year against Bourne. While last season didn’t end the way the Red Hawks wanted, Frontier raised its ninth state banner in 2017 following a 3-1 win over Bourne.

The Eagles (22-1), of Marlborough, on the other hand have never been to the state tournament. The school opened in 2005.

MacDonald feels experience will play a role, but also understands his team is young and doesn’t have many players who have match experience at the state level.

“It doesn’t hurt,” MacDonald said of his team having played in the tournament year after year. “That was us in 2005, not having been there in a long, long time. If you have the team to do it, you can do it. It’s nice we have some experience but we have a lot of kids playing in their first big games. There’s a big difference between being on the bench for these games and being in those games. It’s different. If it’s game point and they’re serving at you, you can’t simulate that pressure.”

While still a relatively new school, AMSA has been a tough out in the Colonial League the last few years. The program hasn’t lost a league match since the start of the 2017 season.

The Eagles went 19-1 during the regular season this year, surrendering just seven sets along the way.

The Red Hawks are preparing by watching film to try to get an understanding of the unfamiliar opponent.

“They have a pretty good team,” senior outside hitter Jalen Sullivan said. “I like not knowing. It’s a surprise and you can just adjust. It’s less pressure. We haven’t seen them but they haven’t seen us. I don’t think it’s going to be 3-0. They’re going to put up a really good fight. We’re really going to have to work hard.”

To get a win over AMSA, Frontier will need to find a way to slow down outside hitter Olivia Deckers.

Deckers, who posted a career-high 24 kills in the Eagles 3-1 win over Whitinsville Christian in the Central Mass. Div. 3 finals, has been a force all season long.

Diana Bibinski and Melissa Bibinski are also weapons on offense for AMSA, while setter Nina Gavin is a great chess piece to work with, as she transitions to a hitter in the front row, giving the Eagles three offensive threats on the front line at all times.

“They’re having a good year,” MacDonald said. “We didn’t play them but we were in the same tournament as them (earlier this season). They have some really nice pieces and the coach seems to know what he’s doing. He’s putting them in a position to succeed.”

A young team to start the year, the Red Hawks are hitting their stride at the right time.

Olivia Deane has been a weapon all season on the outside along with Sullivan, and the two are leading the Hawks in kills and aces. Other young players stepped up big for Frontier during the Western Mass. tournament.

With only two seniors, the future is bright for the Red Hawks, but they know they have a great opportunity ahead of them to take the state title this year.

“We’re really close right now,” MacDonald said. “I’m proud of the way they’ve worked, I’m proud of what they’ve done. We lost a lot. We only have two seniors so we’re on the young side. We’re trying to set the foundation this year but we still want to win right now.”

After winning the Western Mass. title, Frontier couldn’t be more confident heading into the state tourney.

“It’s such a great feeling to make it there,” Sullivan said. “Once you’re there and on the court, it’s a lot easier and less stressful. We’re feeling awesome. Winning Western Mass. is the best feeling in the world. Not just knowing you’re the best in the west, but winning that game with everyone running out screaming… it’s the best feeling.”

The winner of today’s match will meet the winner of Ipswich and Rockland for the Div. 3 title. The final is set for Saturday at noon at Worcester State University. Ipswich and Rockland play later tonight at 6 p.m. in the other semifinal at Newton South High School.


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