By JASON BUTYNSKI Recorder Staff
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[ Originally published on: Monday, November 19, 2007 in Greenfield Recorder]
HUDSON -- Occasionally, you witness a game that's played so well by both teams that neither should lose.
That was the case Saturday afternoon at the MIAA Division III Volleyball Championship, where two-time defending
champion Frontier Regional School and North Reading High School left everything on the Hudson High School court.
The result was a five-set match that was as competitive as the previous two meetings between the squads. The only
difference was the winner.
After Frontier defeated North Reading in each of the past two seasons -- once in four games, the other in five -- en
route to its back-to-back, the Hornets finally extracted revenge, handing the Red Hawks a 27-25, 27-25, 21-25, 21-25,
15-12 defeat to finally take home a state championship.
For the Red Hawks, the loss put an end to an otherwise brilliant season. But in defeat, this may have been their most
In the decisive fifth game, the Hawks came out strong and built a 9-6 lead behind four Alyssa Stankowski kills.
The turnaround occurred when Erica Diamantides took over serve with the Hornets trailing 9-7. The North Reading
senior served four straight points, one of which was highlighted by a block from Lauren Mazzone (eight blocks, six kills)
to put her team up 11-10.
With the game coming down to the wire, both teams seemed to tighten up. Four straight serves (two by each team)
went either long or into the net, putting North Reading ahead 13-12. Then Elizabeth Sutera made it 14-12 on one of her
nine kills of the afternoon, setting up the final point.
The Hawks received the serve by North Reading's Alison Friberg (28 assists, four kills), and set it for Stankowski.
Unfortunately for Frontier, her kill attempt landed just wide of the line, and the North Reading celebration was on.
''When you're down 2-0 in the state finals, to come back and force a fifth game, that says a lot about the team,''
explained Frontier coach Sean MacDonald. ''I thought North Reading played very well. I thought they dug everything,
they blocked well, and we made a couple of mistakes at the wrong time. They made us pay for every one of them.''
In the first game, the two teams seemed to be feeling each other out. The teams traded points throughout the game
and ended up knotted at 25-25. A service error by Frontier and an unreturnable serve by North Reading gave the
Hornets the two straight points they needed to take the game.
In Game 2, the serving of Tessa Goodhind helped the Hawks build a 16-7 lead. But, with the strong serving from
Kiersten Carbone and Adrianna Doyle (10 kills in the game), the Hornets were able to chip away at the score. Finally,
with her team leading 26-25, Doyle hit the line with a kill and gave her team a 2-0 lead.
The next two games saw many of Frontier's players come alive. Stankowski became the focal point of the offense,
finishing with 16 of her game-high 28 kills in games three and four. Setting for Stankowski was Francene Cicia, who
finished with 24 assists in the match.
Cassidy Stankowski also made her presence known, as she got things going with a number of huge digs that usually
led to kills by her older sister. The younger Stankowski finished with an eye-popping 41 digs and also chipped in seven
kills from the back row.
With Frontier down 19-18 in the third game, Amanda Koldy went back to serve and came up with six straight points.
After the Hornets got two back, Alyssa Stankowski sealed the win with her ninth kill of the game.
The fourth game was as close as the first three, with Frontier grabbing an early lead of 12-7. The Hornets stormed
back to tie it at 14-14, but back-to-back blocks by Samantha Clairemont gave Frontier a lead it never relinquished.
But the drain of having to comeback from such a huge deficit finally took its toll.
''The comeback was awesome,'' Alyssa Stankowski began. ''We all really pulled it together and played as a team. In the
fifth game, we came out to a strong start, but they (North Reading) played a really strong match and were out to get us.
We just ran out of steam at the end.''
Mary Spadola (five kills), the only senior on the team, said it wasn't that Frontier played poorly, but that the Hornets
played very well.
''North Reading played one heck of a match,'' she started. ''They weren't going to give us anything. They earned those
games, every point they earned. I'm just so very proud of this team, we're down two and we still pushed to the very last
One place the Hawks struggled in the finals was at the service line. After serving well all year, Frontier seemed to
struggle at times from the line.
''Serving is such a mental thing,'' explained MacDonald. ''It is the one skill in volleyball where you have total control of
what's going on. They blow the whistle and you have eight seconds to serve the ball.
''It's frustrating that's what we struggled with, because we spend a lot of time in practice on that. But you can't simulate
a game. You can't go to a volleyball camp, or a practice and say, 'OK, it's match point in the state finals, you've got to
get this serve in or you lose.' You can't simulate that.''
For North Reading coach Keri Forrest, the win put to rest the memories of the past two seasons in which her team was
eliminated, first in the state semifinals by Frontier, and last year in the finals.
''The difference I think this year was their attitude,'' she said. ''These girls wanted to win. They were feisty. That fire
needs to come from them, it can't come from me.''
That fire has been lit under the tails of the Red Hawks. While there will be no three-peat, Frontier can take solace in the
fact that it loses only one player and has a very good shot at getting back to the finals next season.
''This was tough, but every time you are here, you gain more experience,'' said MacDonald. ''We won with a bunch of
sophomores, and we came up just short with a bunch of juniors. I don't know if anyone will want to see us with a bunch
North Reading finished 22-3 while Frontier wrapped up its season at 23-2.
Home / Sports / High schoo l MIAA state volleyball championships From Boston.com
North Reading 3, Frontier 2 - Coach Kerrianne Forrest can't recall how it happened. One moment she was sitting,
anxiously, on the edge of a folding chair inside the gymnasium at Hudson High School, hands crossed nervously in
front of her face.
Six minutes later, Forrest was being mobbed by players and fans in full celebration.
In a memorable matchup between budding rivals, the girls of North Reading finally overcame two-time defending state
champion Frontier, the team that ended North Reading's season in 2005 and 2006.
The Hornets took the first two games, both by a score of 27-25. Frontier fought back, winning the next two games, both
by a score of 25-21, to force a decisive fifth game. Holding true to the prevailing theme, Game 5 was another back-and-
In a game in which neither team held more than a 2-point lead, North Reading scored the winning point when a volley
landed out of bounds, sending the Hornets into a frenzy at midcourt.
"We were just thinking, 'Pick up the ball,' " said junior Lauren Mazzone of the game's final play. "It was such a tight
match, we were just matching each other point for point and it was so close we just wanted to keep the ball in the air
and in bounds.
"The last point, we could hear the guys on the sidelines screaming, 'Let it go, let it go,' because they saw it was out
before we did."
Tied at 21 in Game 1, North Reading junior Alison Friberg came up with back-to-back kills for a 23-21 edge before the
Red Hawks countered to even things at 24 apiece. A Frontier error put the Hornets ahead, 26-25 before an ace by
Mazzone sealed the victory.
North Reading took the second game behind Mazzone, Friberg, and Elizabeth Sutera. Seniors Caroline Gattuso and
Erica Diamantides anchored a defense that hadn't lost a game in the tournament. The fourth-seeded Hornets defeated
No. 5 Lynnfield, top-ranked Fellowship Christian, and No. 11 Notre Dame Academy.
"Last year, [Frontier] took us [in four games], in the  semis, it was the same thing. We went up two games, they
came back and won it," said Friberg. "We brought that sadness from losing to them both times, plus we're a year older
and we've been together a year longer and we just wanted to win.
"It feels so good to do it against Frontier. They're an amazing team. It just feels great against them."
'We did it': North Reading wins first state title
By Alan Siegel , Staff Writer
HUDSON - Alison Friberg wanted it this way.
Once again, Frontier, which had denied North Reading the past two seasons, was the only team standing in the way of
an elusive state volleyball title.
"I was nervous," said Friberg, a junior setter. "But if you make a mistake, you just have to brush it off and get the next
The Hornets followed her lead yesterday, pulling off a 27-25, 27-25, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12 victory over the Red Hawks in
the Division 3 state final. North Reading (22-3) finally overcame Frontier (23-2), which defeated the Hornets in the state
final last year and in the state semis in 2005.
"I told my (assistant coaches) 'Oh I don't want to play Frontier again,'" fourth-year coach Keri Forrest said. "But it just
makes the victory so much sweeter."
Forrest's club withstood tremendous pressure, taking the fifth game after the Red Hawks came back from a 2-0 deficit.
"You girls can do this," Forrest told her team after the fourth game. "I said, 'Play to win. Don't wait for a mistake.'"
The Hornets, who needed five games to dispatch Ursuline in the state semis, trailed 9-6 in the fifth before finishing with
an 9-3 flurry.
"I thought maybe that was the way it was supposed to happen," Forrest said.
At 13-12 in the fifth, junior hitter Liz Sutera (9 kills, 3 blocks) made a leaping kill to put North Reading on the precipice
of its first state title in program history.
"It was huge," Forrest said of Sutera's play.
"That took a lot of risk," senior setter Erica Diamantides said.
A Red Hawks error sealed it, sending the Hornets into a frenzy.
"It was nerve racking," Diamantides said, "But we had to pull through."
The 200 or so North Reading fans who made the 40-minute drive down Route 495 to Hudson High mobbed the players
after the trophy presentation.
Junior hitters Adrianna Doyle (10 kills) and Lauren Mazzone (8 blocks, 6 kills) were excellent up front for the Hornets,
who only graduate five members of this year's squad in the spring.
"This was our goal," said Friberg, who finished with 28 assists and four kills. "Hey, we did it. It's so good to be here."
The program's progress has been remarkably steady in recent years. In 2004, the Hornets fell to Lynnfield in the North
final before advancing to the state semis and final in consecutive years.
Forrest knew Frontier would be a challenge. But she never lost faith.
"I did all my homework, I sent my family to go see (our opponents)," she said. "(The players) never let me down."
Female Athlete of the Week
Republican photo Alyssa Stankowski
POSITION: Outside hitter
ACCOMPLISHMENTS - Stankowski was recently named to the Division III all-state team for the second year in a row,
as the Red Hawks reached the state final for the third year in a row. The team co-captain had 28 kills in that match, a 3-
2 loss to North Reading on Nov. 17.
TEAM - Boston Red Sox
ATHLETES - Jason Varitek, David Ortiz
SUBJECT - Latin
MUSICIANS - Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley
OF NOTE - Stankowski has been a member of four straight Northern Division champions, three straight Western
Massachusetts champions and the 2005 and 2006 state champions.
On being named to the all-state team again - "I think it's really cool. I was surprised to make it as a sophomore last
year. Honestly, if it weren't for my teammates, I don't think I'd be making the all-state team."
On the Red Hawks' 23-2 season - "We had a real good season. I know it didn't gave the ending everyone wanted, but I
was real proud of the team."
Frontier dismantles Millis
By MARK DURANT Recorder Staff
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[ Originally published on: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 in the Greenfield Recorder ]
MARLBOROUGH -- Can anyone stop the Red Hawk Express in November?
Two-time defending state champion Frontier Regional School parlayed one of its best serving performances of the year
and a stellar defensive effort to run away from Millis High School, 25-17, 25-16, 25-22, in the semifinals of the MIAA
State Division III Girls' Volleyball Tournament at the Marlborough High School Field House.
''This is probably the best we've served all year, and I thought it was one of the better matches we've played all year,
and against a real good team,'' said Red Hawks coach Sean MacDonald. ''I was really happy with the way we played.''
It was the 14th consecutive November victory -- all in the postseason -- for the Red Hawks, and after their head-turning
performance here against a young but talented Mohawks squad, you have to wonder if anyone has enough firepower
to derail this runaway train.
How dominant was Frontier in the match? Millis (20-4) never even held a lead until early in Game 3, and its biggest lead
was just two points, 3-1.
After a shaky start by both teams -- three straight serves into the net -- the Red Hawks (23-1) started to find their
offensive groove and built a 14-9 lead behind three big kills from junior outside hitter Alyssa Stankowski, who
contributed 13 kills and 25 digs.
The Mohawks chipped away and closed the gap to two on three different occasions, the latest at 16-14, but Frontier
took over from there, using three service points from Sam Clairemont and an unforced error from Millis to extend the
advantage to 20-14.
Stankowski closed out the game with a kill and two service points, including the final one that wasn't returned.
The serving of Francene Cicia and Mary Spadola helped the Red Hawks bolt out to a 9-2 Game 2 lead, along with
some outstanding defensive work from seventh-grade libero Cassidy Stankowski, who finished the match with 25 digs.
The serving of Koldy, Cicia and Cassidy Stankowski allowed Frontier to maintain its lead when Millis made a few runs
behind the hitting of junior middle hitter Deirdre Nash and a big block from junior Anna Luker.
Cicia's three-point service run, which included an ace, extended the Red Hawk lead to 21-10, and the Mohawks never
got closer than eight the remainder of the game. Cassidy Stankowski finished off the second game with a beautifully-
timed bump over the net that found a wide-open gap in the Millis defense and fell in harmlessly for game point.
The younger Stankowski displayed a knack for being in the right places for almost every ball headed over the net, and
a quiet confidence whether executing a jump serve, a back-row spike or a sprawling dig.
''She's just a special kid,'' said MacDonald. ''She's been around the team because her dad (Jack) is my assistant, and
she's been watching her big sister play since eighth grade.
''She's got a mental aspect of her that you don't see, and she just turned 13,'' he added. ''Some teams try to rattle her
and it just doesn't happen. She sees the game better than most of her teammates. She's a special kid.''
In Game 3, Millis showed signs of life and held leads at three different junctures, thanks to the net play of Nash and
Jessica Lee, as well as the defensive efforts of libero Stpehanie Gove and setter Kendra Kennedy.
Millis held its final lead at 8-7, but Frontier chipped away and had just taken a 12-11 lead when Cassidy Stankowski
took the service line and reeled off nine consecutive points to break the game open at 21-11. Five of her serves
weren't returned (one was an ace), and Spadola and Clairemont both registered kills in the game-changing run.
Young Cassidy's older sister enjoyed the fireworks.
''It is crazy playing with her,'' Alyssa said, breaking into a wide grin. ''Not many kids get a chance to play with their
younger sister, but I love it. I have so much confidence in her, and it definitely shows when we're on the court.
''I think if I were a seventh-grader playing in a state semifinal, I'd have been a lot more nervous than she was,'' she
added with a laugh.
The Red Hawks will head back to the familiar surroundings of Hudson High School for a chance to three-peat against a
familiar foe -- North Reading High School, which won the other semifinal match Tuesday night, beating Ursuline
Saturday's final is a rematch of last year's match, which the Red Hawks won in four games. Match time is scheduled for
Frontier also beat the Hornets, 3-2, in an epic 2005 state semifinal match en route to its first state crown.
''We're just trying to do the best we can,'' said MacDonald modestly. ''Until today I didn't really feel our team had peaked
yet, but I thought we really looked sharp.
''Going for three in a row is special, but that's not what we're focusing on, we just want to play good volleyball,'' he
added. ''If we win, we win. If we get beat and play good volleyball, that's OK with us. (But) if we play like this, I think we're
going to be tough to beat.''
Millis certainly wouldn't disagree.
Frontier 3, Millis 0: Stopped at the Frontier
By Keith Pearson/Daily News correspondent
Posted Nov 13, 2007 @ 09:34 PM
Last update Nov 13, 2007 @ 09:35 PM
Marlborough, Mass. — While there may have been just one senior playing in the Division 3 state semifinal last night,
there was a marked contrast in the amount of experience on the floor.
The current group of Millis Mohawks had never won a sectional title until last weekend, while Frontier has won the past
two state titles. The Red Hawks asserted their confidence from big game experiences in the early going and never let
up, sweeping Millis last night, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-22, at Marlborough High.
"You could feel it when you walked on the court, they were nervous," Mohawks coach Lisa White said of her squad that
wraps up its season at 20-4. "They were scared that if they make the mistake, we might lose."
The Red Hawks dominated from the opening serve and rolled in the opening two games, and after a string of nine
service points from seventh-grader Cassidy Stankowski (25 digs, 4 aces), Frontier led the third game 21-11 before
Millis came back to make the score of the finale respectable.
Frontier (23-1) will face the North Reading on Saturday at Hudson (12 p.m.). The Red Hawks defeated North Reading
in each of the past two state titles, including an epic five-gamer in 2005.
Frontier junior outside hitter Alyssa Stankowski, a standout since the eighth grade, dominated all evening with 13 kills.
"We came out in the beginning playing our game," she said. "We came out really focused. We were on track. Everyone
was on the same page and it just felt so good from the start."
Stankowski had help at the net from junior Samantha Clairemont (7 kills) and the only senior in the match, Mary
Spadola (6 kills). Junior setter Francene Cicia led the way with 14 assists.
Millis, which does not have a senior on the team, was led by junior outside hitter Kelsee Loche with seven kills. Juniors
Jessica Lee and Deirdre Nash each added four kills, while Nash also served three of the Mohawks' eight aces.
Despite watching the curtain fall on her team's season, White wouldn't mind seeing the Red Hawks once again in a non-
"I kind of want to schedule them during the season so we know what they look like," she said.
You sure, coach?
"I would love it," insisted White. "They are clearly a very good team, well-coached. They start just as early as we do, it's
rare that you meet a team that starts in seventh grade. I guess that's the beauty of the Div. 3 school, you don't have
that many kids so you draw upon your middle school kids."
On a day when Frontier coach Sean MacDonald felt his team served one of its best matches of the season, Millis'
return game left plenty to be desired.
"My gosh, we couldn't receive any of their serves," White said in near-amazement after watching her team get
dismantled. "I just kept watching and thinking, 'We come from a league where we float serve all the time.' It, in our
opinion, is one of the toughest serves and they didn't float serve at all, and it killed us. We just couldn't adjust."
Frontier in final
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 By JASON REMILLARD email@example.com From the Republican
Here's a scary thought: the two-time defending state Division III volleyball champions just played their best match of the
Frontier Regional School earned the right to play for the three-peat with a convincing 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 victory over
Millis in a state semifinal at Marlborough High School.
Seventh-grader Cassidy Stankowski and her sister Alyssa, a junior, both had 25 digs to lead the Red Hawks (22-2) to
the final, where they will face either North Reading (20-3) or Ursuline (19-4) at noon on Saturday at Hudson High
School. The latter two played in the other semifinal last night at Walpole High School.
"We all just came in and knew what we had to do," said Alyssa Stankowski, who also had 13 kills.
Familiarity with the situation certainly helps. The Red Hawks played like a team that's been here before, and knows the
drill quite well. Millis did not take a lead until the third game, by which point Frontier had already established its
The youngest player on the court came up biggest in game three. With her team clinging to a 12-11 lead, Cassidy
Stankowski served nine straight points to put the Red Hawks ahead 21-11. Two of those serves were aces, while the
Mohawks (20-4) didn't help matters by making several unforced errors.
"It was a big thrill," said Cassidy, who just turned 13. "This is the first game that I've really served, and I think it's a great
opportunity for me, and it was amazing."
Cassidy certainly amazes her coach, Sean MacDonald.
"She's got a mental aspect of her that you don't see in most players," MacDonald said.
It helps Cassidy to have an all-state performer like Alyssa to learn from. Both girls have been around the team for a
long time, with their father Jack as an assistant coach. Cassidy has been practicing with the Red Hawks ever since
Alyssa cracked the varsity lineup.
"She's very competitive, just like my dad," Alyssa Stankowski said. "I'm more like my mom. It's crazy to play with my little
sister. Not many people get to do that and I love it."
And there aren't many seventh-graders who even get to play on a potential state champion, let alone play a big role as
the starting libero.
Red Hawks three-peat
By JEFF LAJOIE From Hampshire Gazette & Recorder
HOLYOKE - The tale of the championship Frontier Regional girls volleyball team officially became a trilogy on Saturday.
The Red Hawks battled through some struggles and captured their third consecutive Western Massachusetts Division 3
championship, besting pesky Mahar Regional 25-18, 22-25, 25-10, 25-21 at Holyoke Community College.
"This one feels just as good as the first one did," said Frontier senior captain Mary Spadola. "Each one has been
different but this one is nice, especially with a new group of girls."
The Red Hawks will now go after their third straight Division 3 state title, beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday against central
Massachusetts champion Millis (20-3) at Marlboro High School.
On Saturday, top-seeded Frontier (22-1) jumped out quickly in the first game, building a 9-3 lead on a kill by Alyssa
Stankowski. But the Senators (No. 3, 19-4) rallied back to within three at 20-17 when Morgan Murphy put home a kill.
While the momentum appeared to be with Mahar, the Red Hawks kept their poise and held on, closing out the game on
a 5-1 run for a 25-18 win.
The Senators shook off the loss and took off on a 9-0 run early in the second game to grab an 11-5 lead. It grew to 15-
8 when a Frontier serve went wide.
The Red Hawks pulled even at 21 on back-to-back aces by Samantha Clairemont but they were unable to take a lead
and committed errors that allowed the Senators to close out the game 25-22. Murphy registered four kills and three
blocks and her play sparked Mahar in the second game.
"I knew Mahar would be tough," said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald. "Murphy is a strong hitter and Brittany
(Stoddard) sets a nice game, plus they had just come back against Greenfield (in the semifinals) so I knew they had it
in them to rebound after dropping the first game."
The defending champs were never threatened in the third game which they won in convincing fashion 25-10. Spadola,
who finished with 10 kills, was again the key, receiving some nice sets from Franny Cicia, with Stankowski (17 kills) also
Trailing 18-11 in the fourth game, Mahar rode the serving of senior Joanne Grenier and the swinging of Murphy to
close the gap to 19-17. Then Clairemont (nine kills) and Tessa Goodhind converted kills on the last two points for the
Red Hawks, closing out title No. 3, 25-21.
"I'm so proud of everyone because we pulled it together and pushed through some mistakes," said Spadola. "We knew
we had our hands full with Mahar but we fought hard and the result was worth it."
MacDonald said he was especially impressed with the lone senior on his squad.
"If I had to pick the player who stood out in this match it would be Mary," he said. "We were struggling and it wasn't our
smoothest match but she came through when we needed it."
With Frontier struggling as the result of 16 missed serves, MacDonald called on several different Hawks to serve.
Seventh-grader Cassidy Stankowski (28 digs) and junior Katie Rennie made the most of their opportunities.
"This one was really a team effort," MacDonald said. "It says something about our team when we have those girls come
in and play big roles."
Frontier hopes to play two more matches this season.
"We're going to go back to practice and work out the kinks to prepare for the next match," said Spadola. "Hopefully we'll
give (Millis) a good match and we'll get to play another one."
Red Hawks spike Indians, return to 3rd championship
BY JEFF LAJOIE
SOUTH DEERFIELD - For a match that had the makings of a title fight, the Frontier Regional girls volleyball team
knocked out its opponent with a few swift blows on Wednesday night.
Top-seeded Frontier survived a scare in Game 2 but otherwise dominated its Western Massachusetts Division 3
Tournament semifinal match, sweeping No. 4 Turners Falls, 25-13, 25-22, 25-12, to advance to Saturday's
The Red Hawks (21-1) will meet No. 3 Mahar Regional at 4 p.m. at Holyoke Community College.
"I thought right away in the first game we looked really sharp," said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald. "I thought in the
second game we missed a few serves in key spots but we were able to pull it out. Our passing definitely made up for
some missed serves. We were scrambling all over the place and tracking some tough balls down."
Game 1 was tight at the start, with the Red Hawks leading just 8-6 when Turners' Donna Lee Bettencourt registered a
kill. But solid serving from Franny Cicia and Mary Spadola sparked Frontier to a 17-7 run that closed out the frame with
the 25-13 victory.
Things were a bit different in Game 2, as Turners jumped out to a 12-11 lead on a missed Red Hawk serve. But a
rotation-out-of-order call against the Indians allowed Frontier to even the frame at 12 and the change in momentum
resulted in a 6-0 spurt that had the Red Hawks up 18-12 and looking poised to close out the game.
But the Turners Falls hitting picked up and the Indians knew they had to tighten up as Bettencourt and Angela Marguet
registered a pair of kills as part of a 7-0 run that shifted the momentum right back in the Indians' favor, giving them a 19-
Then Frontier junior Alyssa Stankowski rose to the occasion, notching a pair of kills and closing out the frame with a
tough serve that was returned on one hit, allowing Tessa Goodhind to spike it home for the 25-22 win. The close loss in
Game 2 seemed to deflate Turners, which had difficulty getting into any rhythm due to a steady play of Spadola and
Stankowski. The biggest production of the frame came from junior Sam Clairemont as she recorded five aces and three
"She's a good server and she's really stepped it up at the middle-hitter position for us," said MacDonald. "When she's
on her game, it's nice to have more balance. Teams can't just key on Alyssa and Mary because she can just as easily
beat you up the middle."
Clairemont finished with seven kills on the night while Spadola (10 kills) and Stankowski (six) came up with big shots
when needed. Seventh- grader Cassidy Stankowski played well defensively, registering 21 digs from the libero position.
The two-time defending champion Red Hawks find themselves in the familiar position, back in another sectional final.
With a large contingency of players back from those title teams, experience certainly will be a helpful component on
"You can't simulate being in big-match situations," MacDonald said. "If we have an advantage I think it's that we have a
good amount of girls who have been in this spot before. We have a bunch of girls who will be playing in their third
championship, so I think they have an idea of what to expect."
Turners (16-5) was led by Marguet's seven kills, while Jodi Hallett finished the night with 16 assists and 10 digs.
Hawks dispatch South Hadley
BY JOE HURSTAK
SOUTH DEERFIELD - Top-seeded Frontier Regional picked up right where it left off in the Western Massachusetts
Division 3 Girls Volleyball Tournament Monday night, defeating visiting South Hadley, 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
The two-time defending state champion Red Hawks swept the match by scores of 25-11, 25-9, 25-23 over the No. 8
Tigers (12-9), as Frontier continued its postseason dominance. The Hawks have been undefeated in tournament play
the past two years, and began their journey for three straight state titles Monday.
Junior Alyssa Stankowski has been on the floor for both Frontier state championship runs, but said she still finds
emotion in an early-round matchup.
"We've been here before but each time you just get so excited no matter who you are playing," Stankowski said.
Stankowski's five kills led a balanced, yet lethal Frontier attack, resulting the two quick opening wins.
Game 3 was tighter, going 25-23 to Frontier, as coach Sean MacDonald dipped into his bench. The Hawks posted a 19-
1 regular-season record, and their consistency throughout the year translated directly onto the court. Junior Samantha
Clairemont served 12 consecutive points midway through the first game, totaling five aces for the match. MacDonald
noted serving is one of the strengths of his team, and that it's something they work on every day in practice.
"It is so crucial to be deep serving because it is such a game of momentum," MacDonald said.
Frontier opened the second game of the match with junior Francene Cicia serving for the first nine points, only to be
spelled by Kendra Ovimette, who served four more points. The consistent offensive attack from Frontier showcased the
Hawks' serving depth.
"It's nice getting a chance to show people who we are, and what we work so hard for," said Clairemont, who contributed
mightily to Frontier's 22 aces for the match.
A link to the past can be found in Turners Falls, which awaits the Hawks in the semifinal round. The Indians and
Frontier will play at 7 p.m. Wednesday night in South Deerfield. Turners Falls has been a heated Northern Division rival
for years, usually one the Red Hawks must get through to win WMass.
"I do not think I will have to do much to get the girls ready for that game," MacDonald said. "If there is one team in
Western Mass. that wants to beat us it's Turners Falls. They are coming here and they are going to be gunning for us."
Frontier falls in showcase
By Staff reports Hampshire Gazette
The Frontier Regional girls volleyball team lost for the first time this season Saturday, and coach Sean MacDonald
wants his team to learn from the experience.
Haldane High School of Cold Spring, N.Y., swept the Red Hawks (13-1) 25-11, 25-18, 25-17 in the Hall of Fame High
School Showcase of Champions at Holyoke Community College.
"This is a good wake-up call for us," MacDonald said. "That's a very good team, not what we're used to seeing. It
showed us what we need to work on."
Cassidy Stankowski was named Frontier's outstanding player of the match, with 32 digs.
Mary Spadola contributed 24 digs and four kills, and Alyssa Stankowski added four kills for Frontier.
By JASON BUTYNSKI
[ Originally published on: Tuesday, October 09, 2007 in Greenfield Recorder]
Remember that movie, ''Rookie of the Year?''
It was about a young kid named Henry Rowengartner, who can throw a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and ends up playing
on a Major League Baseball team.
Well, this season the Frontier Regional School girls' volleyball team has its very own Henry Rowengartner. Her name is
Cassidy Stankowski, a 12-year-old, seventh grader. Unlike the movie, in which Rowengartner makes the team because
of how bad it is, Stankowski is the starting libero on the defending Division III state champion team.
For those of us not schooled in volleyball, let me define what the libero is, with a little Wikipedia help; it's a defensive
player who is quick and has strong passing skills. The word libero means 'free' which fits, because the libero is able to
substitute for anyone else on the court during each play.
Because liberos never play at the net, they don't have to be tall, which allows shorter players to impact the outcome of
a game. So, attend a volleyball match and you'll have no problem spotting the libero, first and foremost because they're
required to wear a different colored jersey than teammates.
Mandy Zajac played the libero position the past two seasons for the Red Hawks and, after being named a league all-
star in her senior season last year, left some big shoes to fill. With the empty position, Hawk coach Sean MacDonald
was forced to make a number of decisions, the first of which was whether to allow a seventh-grader to compete for a
varsity roster spot.
''You're kind of torn, because if she's on the varsity team she would strictly be libero, but if she was on the middle
school or JV team, there's other positions she could play and she could work on setting and hitting,'' MacDonald
explained. ''I wasn't sure if I wanted to limit her, but if she's the best one at passing and defense, then why not use
those skills in something that counts. If we're gonna go after another championship, then I want the best people
His next decision was to pick the starter from a group of six players that tried out for the spot. For this, he designed a
test, in which he scored each girl. The test started out with each girl receiving five serves in three different spots for a
total of 15. Each player had to receive the serve and pass the ball to a target. They got anywhere from zero to three
points, depending on the accuracy, then took three easy passes at each position and again had to hit the target.
Next, they each served five balls to three different spots and were scored on accuracy. The girls then had to do 10
jump-serves. While one girl got nine-out-of-ten in, Cassidy was the only one to finish a perfect 10.
Finally, the girls played a game with the remaining starters from last year, and Cassidy again rose above and beyond.
So he made the final cuts, and, while he says there was obvious disappointment from the girls who didn't make the cut,
he hasn't had any griping from anyone.
''Nobody has come up to me and said, 'What were you thinking?'' explained MacDonald. ''There's no arguing whether
she can play or not. You can argue that I should give that job to an older person because they've paid their dues or
they've been on the team longer, but I really don't care how old you are. If you can do the job, I don't think its fair to
give it to somebody else just because they're older.''
There's no arguing with Stankowski's play so far. In 11 matches she has compiled 129 digs, which puts her second on
the team, just behind older sister Alyssa, who made the varsity squad when she was in eighth grade.
MacDonald did concede that he was a bit nervous entering the season, not knowing how his young player would
respond to different situations. But after witnessing her unflappability in the first 11 matches, he has no regrets.
''I think a few teams have tried to rattle her a little bit but there is no rattling her,'' he MacDonald began. ''She'll make a
mistake, I mean she's not playing perfect volleyball, but she'll come back and just kick butt. There's no, 'Oh gosh, I
made a mistake,' with her. She just shakes it right off.''
Part of that may come from the fact that this is not the first time Stankowski has played with older girls. When she was
nine, she began playing on the WMass Under 15 Junior Olympic team, also serving as the team's starting libero.
And how do the rest of the girls feel about having someone roughly five years their junior playing with them?
''The girls treat me like I'm a little sister, and sometimes you don't even notice the age difference,'' Cassidy explained.
''I think it's almost not noticeable,'' MacDonald agreed. ''It's almost like she's a junior or a sophomore. She's the
youngest person on the team, but everyone treats her just the same.''
So far, the camaraderie has produced an 11-0 record, putting the Red Hawks in the hunt for another state title.
In pictures from last season's championship game, Stankowski can be seen sitting on the bench, serving as the
This season, she hopes to be the one filling the book with stats of her own in the big game.
COACH: Sean MacDonald, fifth year
LEAGUE/DIVISION: Northern/Division 3
LAST YEAR'S RECORD: 23-2
LAST TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE: Won 2006 Division 3 state championship 3-1 over North Reading
RETURNING STARTERS (position): Senior - Mary Spadola, outside hitter; Juniors - Alyssa Stankowski, outside hitter;
Francene Cicia, setter; Amanda Koldy, setter; Tessa Goodhind, middle hitter; Sammy Clairemont, middle hitter/opposite
OTHER RETURNING PLAYERS (position): Junior - Abby Dewitt, defense; Sophomore - Amanda Dacyczyn, middle hitter
NEWCOMERS (position): Juniors - Ali Williams, outside hitter; Isabelle Harper, middle hitter; Katie Rennie, defense; 7th
grader - Cassidy Stankowski, libero
OUTLOOK: After losing Gazette all-star Nelly Denehy, the Red Hawks return a young but experienced squad led by
cocaptains Spadola and Stankowski. Stankowski was the top offensive player for Frontier last season, while Spadola
was a strong all-around performer. The team has tournament experience throughout the roster after winning two
straight state championships.