Frontier sweeps Lynnfield, 3-0,
for another state championship
By MARK DURANT Recorder Staff
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
FITCHBURG — The “Senior Show” was worth the price of admission.
Frontier Regional School rode the play of its eight seniors throughout most of the postseason, then closed out a memorable era in the program’s storied
history Saturday afternoon with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-20 victory over Lynnfield High School to capture their sixth consecutive MIAA State Division III Girls’
Volleyball championship at Doug Grutchfield Fieldhouse.
Rachel Cialek stepped to the forefront in this match and finished her Red Hawk career in style, firing home a match-high 19 kills and recording 3 digs. She
virtually carried Frontier in the third set, registering 10 kills.
Cialek was all smiles, but clearly emotional after her final match.
“It’s so amazing ... I really don’t have any words,” said the 5-foot-11 outside hitter, her voice cracking slightly and she tried to breathe. “It’s just such a good
“She kills it all the time,” setter Emily Woodward said of Cialek. “She’s constantly working on hitting the ball harder, and her confidence on the court was one
of the big reasons we played so well.”
The Red Hawks (22-3) struggled with unforced errors at the outset, but trailed just once (1-0) and spread the ball around during its opening-set win, with six
players registering a kill. Cialek, Sunny Hunter, Katherine Conlisk and Sarah Conlisk all recorded a kill during the early stages, then a four-point service run
from Katherine Conlisk upped the Frontier lead to 10-4.
The Pioneers, who made only 5 errors in the set, tried to close the gap but never got closer than 4 (22-18). Woodward (43 assists, 10 digs, 2 kills and a
block) served for the final three points and set up Hunter’s kill on set point.
Remi Quesnelle recorded two kills in the first set and finished with 9 kills, 21 digs and an ace, but she also committed an uncharacteristic three hitting errors
during the opener. Red Hawks head coach Sean MacDonald was unconcerned with his senior outside hitter, disclosing afterward that Quesnelle was not 100
“I’m really proud of Remi,” he said. “She was really sore from Wednesday and didn’t play like herself, but she gutted it out. The rest of the team really
stepped up, so it was nice to lean on our balance. We have good players all over the place.”
“I was trying to play the best I could,” added Quesnelle, “but my teammates really came through and I’m so proud of them.”
Lynnfield (16-8) reeled off the first six points and raced out to an 8-1 lead in the second set after an ace from Olivia Pascucci, but Frontier showed its
trademark resilience by beginning the climb out of the early hole. Lynnfield still held onto the lead but Sarah Conlisk (7 kills, 3 digs, 1 ace) closed the deficit
to 17-13 before Frontier libero Sara Corey (10 digs, 3 aces, 2 assists) served for 6 straight points, including 1 ace, to put the Red Hawks on top, 19-17. The
Pioneers committed three errors in the crucial stretch. Frontier extended its lead to 23-18, and Quesnelle’s kill — after a brilliant defensive effort by Adams to
save an errant ball and keep it alive — finished off the set, giving the Red Hawks a 2-0 lead.
“If you’re going to fall behind by seven, you’d rather it be early in a set than late,” offered MacDonald. “We didn’t panic, and we had a few nice rotations
where we scored a bunch of points. So when it was like 11-8, I was feeling OK.
“These girls don’t panic and they don’t give up,” he added. “I didn’t want to be down 8-1, but it wasn’t time to panic.”
Frontier lost the first point but quickly built an 8-2 lead in the final set behind Cialek and the Conlisk sisters. A game Pioneers squad clawed its way back with
solid front-row play from Kate Nugent and Mary Kate Deighan before finally retaking the lead at 13-12 lead.
The set — which featured seven ties and seven lead changes — kept flipping back and forth until Frontier took the lead at 20-19 on Cialek’s kill. Katherine
Conlisk (7 kills, 7 digs) served for the next four points, with help from two Cialek kills, to get to match point, and Cialek ripped a cross-court kill that Lynnfield
was unable to return to trigger the celebration.
Woodward happily and humbly reflected on a record-breaking career, which included 2,245 assists and five state crowns (four as a starter).
“It’s insane,” she said. “I just feel so grateful that I even go to this school, and to have Sean to coach us every day, and to have a group of girls who just want
to keep getting better every day.
“We had a team dinner (Friday) night and we all talked about what it means to be part of this program, what it meant to go to practice every single day and
have everybody work so hard and want it so bad, and I just feel so lucky,” she added.
This senior group has been part of the three-year stretch that went 65-8 and won three Western Massachusetts and three state titles — a remarkable run of
success, regardless of sport.
Even though he’s had some impressive teams — the 2010 machine that beat Division I powerhouse Barnstable High School, finished 26-0 and produced
four All-State selections quickly comes to mind — MacDonald said this group of 12th-graders was special.
“They’ve reached unprecedented levels of success for anyone not named Barnstable,” said MacDonald, referring to the 17-time D-I state champions, who
also won Saturday. “I don’t think it’s ever going to be done again. These girls have been there and done it, and I’m really proud of them.”
Cialek, despite having trouble even talking due to the emotion, was able to articulate why the Red Hawks have had this extended success.
“We have an amazing coach,” she said softly. “We’re not here without him ... It’s all because of him.”
Quesnelle was just ecstatic about winning this title as the others she’s been part of in her career.
“People will say we won six in a row, and that’s great,” she said, “but every time it’s different. Every time it’s just as exciting.”
Hawks outlast Case to state final, 3-2
By MARK DURANT Recorder Staff
Sunday, November 22, 2015
NORTHBOROUGH — They want six, pure and simple.
Frontier Regional School battled back from a pair of one-set deficits and survived a nail-biter of a fifth set to post a 20-25, 25-15, 14-25, 25-18, 16-14 victory
over Joseph Case High School in the semifinals of the MIAA State Division III Girls’ Volleyball Tournament Wednesday night at Algonquin Regional High School.
The win sends the Red Hawks (21-3) to their sixth consecutive state championship game, where they will face North sectional champion Lynnfield High School
Saturday at noon at Fitchburg High School.
No one could gain the upper hand in the decisive set, with no one holding more than a one-point lead throughout the first part of the set. It also featured 11
ties and three lead changes.
Julia McLintock’s tip kill gave the Cardinals (22-3) their final lead, 11-10, but Rachel Cialek (17 kills) fired home a kill to tie it at 11 and Sara Corey served for
the next three points to set Frontier up with match point at 14-11.
Haley Armburg’s kill got the ball back for Case. Then Kaitlyn Kopecky recorded a kill and Armburg got a tip kill to tie it at 14, right after a Frontier timeout.
Quesnelle fired home a back-row kill to gain another match point and send Katherine Conlisk to the service line. The senior launched a perfect float serve for
an ace to end the 1-hour, 50 minute match.
It was a championship performance fitting for the five-time state champions. Now the Red Hawks get to go after No. 6 in a row.
“I’m very proud of the fight and determination of this team. They are never out of it,” said Frontier head coach Sean MacDonald, who is now 285-23 overall
with the Red Hawks. “I was really impressed with the fight of Case. They played a great match and gave us everything we could handle.”
Case went on the offense during the opening set, which was close until the Cardinals opened up an 11-7 lead. After the Red Hawks got a point on a Case
ballhandling error, the Cardinals went on a 9-3 run to take a commanding 20-11 lead. Kopecky, Julia Bushell and Allyson DiCesare all had kills during the run,
and the Red Hawks had two missed serves and two other unforced errors in that span.
Frontier battled back and closed the gap to 21-17, but Case got a kill from Armburg and the Cardinals pulled away, ending on another Frontier error.
The Red Hawks turned the tables in the second set, bolting out to an early 7-2 lead and never trailing. Remi Quesnelle (25 kills, 26 digs) and Cialek combined
for 7 kills in the set, and the closest Case could get was 8-6. Frontier quickly rode the strong serving of Sarah Conlisk (4 kills, 3 aces) to extend the lead to 16-
8, and the Red Hawks methodically pulled away, wrapping it up on as missed kill attempt by Kopecky.
The Cardinals responded by opening up an early 5-1 lead in the third set, and the Red Hawk never got closer than 1 (10-9) before the Case defense and a
well-timed kills from DiCesare and Bushell helped open up a 16-10 lead, and they kept expanding it until finally closing it out on DiCesare’s kill off a Frontier
Facing a do-or-die fourth set, much like last year against Lynnfield, the Red Hawks bolted out to a 6-2 lead, sparked by an early Quesnelle blast on a perfect
setup from Emily Woodward (48 assists, 17 digs) and a monster block from Sunny Hunter (3 blocks). Case rallied to take a 13-12, lead, but the Red Hawks
reclaimed the lead for good on a Quesnelle kills and a Sarah Conlsik ace, as the Hawks reeled off 10 of the next 12 points to build a 22-15 lead. Frontier
closed out the set on Case ballhandling error, setting the winner-take-all fifth set.
“We struggled at times and could have folded, but we didn’t,” said MacDonald. “It shows a lot of heart to win from behind when things haven’t been going your
way and now you’re tired.
“We earned a couple more practices, and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
Hawks seeking 6th consecutive state championship today
By MARK DURANT Recorder Staff
Frontier Regional School has established itself as a juggernaut in girls’ volleyball, having reached unprecedented levels of success previously unseen locally
in this or any other sport — 12 straight 20-win seasons, 11 consecutive Western Massachusetts titles and five state crowns in a row.
Today, the Red Hawks go after their sixth consecutive state championship when they face North sectional power Lynnfield High School in the MIAA Division III
title tilt at Fitchburg High School.
First serve is scheduled to go in the air at noon.
It’s also a matchup of two of the more accomplished head coaches in Division III — Sean MacDonald has been the architect of Frontier’s decade-plus of
dominance, while Michelle Perrone has led the Pioneers to six straight North sectional crowns, and have swept all five of its postseason opponents, 3-0, en
route to today’s final.
MacDonald said the most misleading fact about Lynnfield is probably its record (16-7).
“They have had a great season after losing (All-State player) Emma Mancini (now playing at Endicott College),” he said. “They play a very tough schedule
and their losses are to very quality opponents.”
The only real issue facing Perrone’s squad is how to beat Frontier — the Red Hawks swept the Pioneers in the 2012 state final and rallied to knock off
Lynnfield, 3-2, in last year’s state semifinal.
Much like last year’s semifinal, Frontier (21-3) had to reach down deep to get past Joseph Case High School in a five-set thriller Wednesday night, and
Perrone was one of the many interested observers on hand as she scouted her recent state tourney nemesis.
And based off recent results, Perrone’s squad won’t need any extra motivation for her squad — just like Case a few days ago, there’s nothing the Pioneers
want more than to turn the proverbial tables on Frontier and claim the school’s state title.
Lynnfield will present the Red Hawks with a different look than Case — the Pioneers run a 6-2 offense with Jessica Morelli and Division III All-State selection
Shannon Ryan and as the setters.
The Pioneers have quality in the front row with middle hitters Jessica Badger and Mary Kate Deighan, but the main threat is All-State outside hitter Katie
Nugent, who has recorded nearly half of the team’s kills during the regular season, and more than half of them during the playoffs. Her sidekick on the outside
is Olivia Pacucci, who is second in kills.
Lynnfield’s hallmark has been defense, and libero Jess Dwyer is the Pioneers’ defensive stalwart. She leads the team in digs.
During the Pioneers’ 3-0 semifinal win over Sutton High School, Nugent registered a match-high 17 kills and Morelli dished out 16 assists.
Perrone isn’t afraid to go to her bench, using different combinations of front and back row subs to enhance their rotations and create mismatches against their
opponents that they can exploit.
On Wednesday, MacDonald — who is prepared for most situations that arise during a match — tweaked his rotation and exploited a weakness in the Case
defense during the fourth and fifth sets, and the Cardinals — who appeared to be in control of the match — never fully recovered.
Part of that switch allowed senior outside hitter Remi Quesnelle to register a career-high 25 kills. That same adjustment allowed Case to have two blockers
defending against Rachel Cialek, but the senior outside hitter took her game to an even higher level in the final two sets and finished with 17 kills.
Cialek, Quesnelle and the rest of Frontier’s front liners have benefited from a phenomenal season from senior setter Emily Woodward, who has quietly put
together one of the most storied careers for a Frontier player not named Stankowski — over 2,000 career assists, part of four state titles (three as a starter)
and recently named All-State for the third straight year (see accompanying story).
If that wasn’t enough, Woodward’s play has reached dizzying heights in the postseason — she’s totaled 135 assists and averaging a mind-boggling 12.3
assists per set.
What separates the Red Hawks from the average team, for the most part, is their role players. Katherine Conlisk is a great example of that — the senior
opposite hitter has shrugged off nearly two years of injuries to make timely and critical contributions with timely hitting, solid defense and masterful serving.
Middle blocker Sarah Conlisk — who’s third on the team in kills — didn’t light up the stat sheet against Case, but her strong serving (3 aces) and improved
defense (3 digs, 1 block) were critical in Frontier’s comeback win, as was the performance of middle blocker Sunny Hunter (team-high 3 blocks). Libero Sara
Corey played stellar defense with 25 digs (Quesnelle led the team with 26), and Hannah Adams recorded 10 digs and 3 assists. MacDonald also brought
sophomore Ella Deane off the bench to serve an ace and play back row defense early in the fifth set.
MacDonald knows playing today wouldn’t have been possible without everybody staying calm and playing their respective roles.
“For the second year in a row we’re very fortunate to be playing on Championship Saturday,” understated MacDonald. “Case played a great match and forced
us to dig out of a hole. Last year we dug out of a deeper hole against Lynnfield; both teams remember that match vividly.
“We won’t be taking Lynnfield lightly, and we’re sure they’re motivated for revenge,” he added.
With all the experience of having been in this spot multiple times before, MacDonald knows his squad will be ready for yet another challenge on the state’s
“We have the opportunity to achieve our preseason goal of winning a state championship,” he said. “We’re going in motivated and focused. We’re looking
forward to the match.”
Frontier girls volleyball's Remi Quesnelle named to MaxPreps
small school All-American third team
By Brandon Chase | email@example.com
on December 30, 2015 6:45 PM
Frontier senior opposite Remi Quesnelle was named to MaxPreps' small
school All-American third team on Wednesday. She is the only player from
New England to make any of the three teams.
Quesnelle was a co-captain on a Red Hawks team that went 22-3 and won its
11th consecutive Western Massachusetts Division III title and sixth straight
state state title. She led the region with 306 kills (3.5 per set) while tallying 98
aces and 265 digs.
Quesnelle was named to the All-Eastern League and All-State, as well as
being chosen as MassLive's Western Mass. Division III Tournament MVP.
Frontier senior Emily Woodward named 2015 Western Mass. Girls
Volleyball Player of the Year
By Brandon Chase | firstname.lastname@example.org
on December 27, 2015 11:00 PM
Throughout the Frontier Regional girls volleyball team’s run of six consecutive state Division III titles from 2010-2015, 12 different players have been
named to at least one All-State team. Only 2013 graduate Cassidy Stankowski and senior Emily Woodward have received that honor three times in that
Along with that, only two players have seen what coach Sean MacDonald called “significant time” on four consecutive state title teams — senior All-State
middle Sarah Conlisk, and again, Woodward.
During her time with the Red Hawks, Woodward left an indelible mark on a program that had already established itself as the premier one in the region
long before she stepped on the court. Woodward served as Frontier’s primary setter for three seasons, captaining the Red Hawks to their 11th
consecutive Western Massachusetts title and sixth straight state crown. The three-time All-State selection can now add Western Mass. Girls Volleyball
Player of the Year to her resume.
“Emily has meant so much to this program over the past four years,” MacDonald said. “What she’s done with the program is amazing.”
In her four seasons, Frontier went 88-9.
“It probably hit me a couple days after (the state finals) when I didn’t go to practice Monday,” Woodward said of her high school career ending.
Woodward has not made a decision on which college she will attend, but aspires to play volleyball at the collegiate level. She has been accepted into
Division III Babson College, Division II Merrimack College, and Division I Providence College.
Woodward entered the 2015 season one assist shy of 1,500 in her career and tallied a Western Mass.-leading 746 assists, an average of 9.2 per set and
29.8 per match. She reached the 2,000 assist milestone on Oct. 30 against Westborough and entered an elite club. Woodward joined Notre Dame
Academy of Hingham’s Corrine Cox — the two-time defending Gatorade State Player of the Year — and 2013 Barnstable graduate Kayla Crook as the
only setters in Massachusetts to reach 2,000. Woodward finished with 2,245 career assists, good for second all-time in state history, 43 behind Cox.
In 2015, Woodward had at least 30 assists in a match 15 times, hit the 40-assist mark six times and set a season high of 51 — twice — on Oct. 5 against
Amherst and Oct. 23 against Hopkinton.
To a casual volleyball fan, the job of a setter is one that may look mundane, but it’s one that requires timing, calmness, and leadership in order to direct a
“It’s always compared to the quarterback… Emily can plan ahead of time like, ‘Hey this is what I want you to hit and where,’” MacDonald said.” “If we get a
bad pass, she’s got less than a second to figure out what Plan B will be. You have to be able to be smart and be able to adapt in under a second.”
Her consistency showed, as hitters Remi Quesnelle, Rachel Cialek, Sarah Conlisk and Katherine Conlisk all notched career highs in kills this season.
Woodward made only 31 ball-handling errors in 2015 in 2,039 attempts, good for a 98.5 percent success rate. She also tallied 51 aces and 117 digs this
“I think they’ve been a little spoiled with the kind of sets they’ve been getting,” MacDonald said.
What is Woodward’s self-claimed secret to success?
“Most of it is just having a lot of patience,” she said.
What’s even more impressive is Woodward’s playoff resume. She played in 19 postseason games and the Red Hawks won all of them. There are two,
however, that will be remembered as the most exciting games in which she’s ever played, both state semifinals. Frontier won both matches in five sets
“It would have to be a tie between (the 2014 state semi with) Lynnfield and (the 2015 state semi with) Case,” Woodward said. “Lynnfield was playing so
well and we knew we weren’t playing up to our abilities and we had to come back. With Case, it was just another great team and we battled right to the
All-Western Mass. Division III Girls Volleyball: Frontier
earns five first-team picks
The Girls Volleyball All-Western Mass. First Teams
By Brandon Chase | email@example.com
on January 11, 2016 10:30 PM
Meg Adams, Ware: Junior outside hitter and Super 7 selection led Western Mass. with 143 aces. Tallied 153 kills for Central League champions. All-
League selection and First Team All-Star. Three-time first team All-Western Mass. selection.
Markina Ako-Brew, Sabis: Junior libero was Bulldogs’ top defender. Led team with 307 digs, averaging 13.9 per match. Served 60 aces. All-Southern
Dagny Albano, Mount Greylock: Junior setter registered 566 assists, breaking the 1,000-career assist mark on Oct. 21 against Pittsfield. Averaged 26.9
assists per match. Also served 39 aces. All-Berkshire League selection.
Jenna Benzinger, Mount Greylock: Junior middle led team in blocks (73) and kills (202). Averaged 9.6 kills per match. All-Berkshire League selection. Had
a .482 attacking percentage.
Rachel Cialek, Frontier: Senior outside hitter and All-State selection tallied 270 kills with a 42.1 kill percentage and a team-leading .266
hitting percentage. Served 47 aces. All-Eastern League, First Team All-Star and MassLive Starting Rotation selection.
Katherine Conlisk, Frontier: Senior outside hitter was an excellent server, leading team with a 95.2 serve percentage. Her ace clinched
state semifinal win over Case. Tallied 90 kills and 126 digs.
Sarah Conlisk, Frontier: Senior middle registered 128 kills and a 42.7 kill percentage. All-State selection served 48 aces with a 93.0 serve
percentage. All-Eastern League selection and First Team All-Star.
Sara LaFreniere, Wahconah: Senior outside hitter/middle led team in kills (165) and blocks (47). Tallied 43 aces and 79 digs. All-Berkshire League and
First Team All-Star selection.
Hope Parker, Athol: Junior outside hitter had 203 kills, 88 aces and an 89.1 serve percentage. All-Northern League selection had 18 kills, two blocks, six
digs and four aces in first-round playoff win over Mount Everett.
Courtney Picard, Lee: Senior outside hitter was Wildcats’ primary attacker. All-Berkshire League selection. Tallied seven kills and three aces in Western
Mass. quarterfinal win over Athol.
Remi Quesnelle, Frontier: Senior opposite led Western Mass with 306 kills. Two-time All-State selection served 98 aces and led team with
265 digs. MassLive Western Mass. Division III Tournament MVP and Starting Rotation selection. Averaged 3.5 kills per set. MaxPreps Small
School Third Team All-American and Super 7 selection.
Sadie Simons, Ware: Senior outside hitter led team with 231 kills while serving up 61 aces. All-Central League choice and First Team All-Star. Two-time All-
Western Mass. first team selection.
Kiana Turner, South Hadley: Sophomore outside hitter led team in kills (144), aces (111), ace percentage (40.8) and digs (210). Had an 89.7 serve
percentage. All-Southern League selection.
Kendra Williams, Lee: Junior setter was instrumental in helping Wildcats to Western Mass. finals. Reached 1,000 career assists in Western Mass.
quarterfinal win over Athol. Voted All-Berkshire League MVP. First Team All-Star.
Emily Woodward, Frontier: Senior setter and MassLive Player of the Year dished out Western Mass.-leading 746 assists. Finished career
with 2,245 assists, the second most in state history. Three-time All-State selection. Super 7 member also had 51 aces and 117 digs.
MassLive Starting Rotation selection. All-Eastern League pick and First Team All-Star.
Hannah Adams, Frontier
Emily Blair, Ware
Serena Chow, Mount Greylock
Sara Corey, Frontier
Maddy Dentzan, Easthampton
Sienna Dillensneider, Turners Falls
Sunny Hunter, Frontier
Kayla Krom, Mount Everett
Suwayna Rowe, Sabis
Shenna Tyer, Lee
Hope Willis, Mount Greylock
Danielle Wilson, Sabis
Frontier's Sean MacDonald named 2015 Western Mass.
Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year
By Brandon Chase | firstname.lastname@example.org
on December 27, 2015 11:00 PM
For Frontier Regional girls volleyball coach Sean MacDonald, the 2015 season was one that saw his team reach all its goals, while serving as a bit of a
balancing act as well.
The Red Hawks had eight seniors and four of their starters returning, which made for any easy transition. However, Frontier did not have a junior on its
roster, which means MacDonald needed to prepare 10 freshmen and sophomores with little or no varsity experience for the 2016 season.
The transition was a smooth one as the senior starters improved their skills to prepare for playing at the collegiate level while the younger reserves,
affectionately called ‘noobs’ by the team, were inserted into the lineup during regular-season games to gain valuable experience. None of this was
detrimental to the team’s performance or cohesion.
Despite the varying level of skill between the two groups, Frontier’s goals were accomplished as the team won the Eastern League title, its 11th
consecutive Western Massachusetts Division III championship and sixth state crown in a row. The Red Hawks went 22-3, with their losses coming twice to
state Division II champion Notre Dame Academy of Hingham and to state Division II finalist Westborough. For leading Frontier to yet another state title,
MacDonald is MassLive’s 2015 Western Mass. Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year.
Frontier also saw four players — Emily Woodward, Remi Quesnelle, Rachel Cialek and Sarah Conlisk — named to the Division III All-State team. It was the
most All-State nods Frontier has received since 2010, when the team went 26-0 en route to the first of the six straight state titles. Individual accolades
aren't the end game, however, as MacDonald's squad understands the team-first approach.
“The goal was to win a state title, not to see how many players we could get on the All-State team,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald puts forth the ideology that winning only comes as a by-product of dedication, a message that resonates with the players. It’s a message that
has helped him to a 286-23 career record and eight state titles in 13 seasons.
Practices are filled with competitive drills to instill that mindset, along with ones that help prepare the team for a game atmosphere. During Frontier’s final
practice of the season before the state finals against Lynnfield, MacDonald ran a drill with Frontier’s hitters that had them hitting with a raised net to
simulate attacking around blockers.
“He does a really good job of stressing that we want to win, not that we need to win,” Woodward said.
Gazette Girls Volleyball Player of the Year:
Remi Quesnelle, Frontier Regional
By KYLE GRABOWSKI
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Player of the Year
Remi Quesnelle, senior, Frontier Regional
Season highlights: Quesnelle led Frontier with 306 kills, 265 digs and 98 aces while playing in all six rotations. The Red Hawks won their sixth Division 3 state
championship and 11th Western Massachusetts championship in a row. Quesnelle had a season-high 25 kills in the team’s state semifinal win over Case and
reached double digits in 17 of Frontier’s 25 matches.
Quesnelle on the season: “I think for the most part I knew exactly the skills needed to be a good player, I just wanted to get better at them ... hitting certain
spots, passing better, leveling up everything I needed to do. ... I wouldn’t want to be playing and not getting better. I hopefully want to play in college. All the
schools that I’ve been applied to I could play volleyball. ... Everyone said ‘Frontier wins another (state championship),’ but I’ve learned that we’re not going to
win just because we’re Frontier. We win because we work hard and we play hard.”
Coach Sean MacDonald on Quesnelle: “She really contributes to the team in a number of areas. Her serving is very strong for us. We score a lot of points
when we serve. It was a little different because we used to have her hit exclusively on the right side of the net. It may not sound like a big deal, but it’s just
different. ... She got a lot of tough balls. The left-side hitter ends up taking out the trash when we’re in a bit of chaos mode. It was a way to get her to pass and
receive serve in all six rotations. We wanted her passing in all six rotations. You look at our state semifinal game it was 16-14 in the fifth set. Having her pass
six rotations instead of five may have been the difference.”
Gazette Girls Volleyball All-Stars
Claire Basler-Chang, sophomore, Amherst Regional
Rachel Cialek, senior, Frontier Regional
Sarah Conlisk, senior, Frontier Regional
Cara McKenzie, junior, Belchertown
Teya Nolan, sophomore, Amherst Regional
Remi Quesnelle, senior, Frontier Regional
Kiana Turner, sophomore, South Hadley
Emily Woodward, senior, Frontier Regional
Morgan Adams, junior, South Hadley
Katherine Conlisk, senior, Frontier Regional
Maddy Dentzan, senior, Easthampton
Nina Hayes, junior, Amherst Regional
Tatayana Ryan, senior, Belchertown
Brittany Starcun, senior, Easthampton
Stephanie Start, junior, Smith Vocational
Sarah Woodford, junior, Belchertown
PHOTOS: Frontier girls volleyball sweeps Lynnfield for
sixth consecutive state D-III title
By Brandon Chase | email@example.com
on November 21, 2015 3:25 PM, updated November 21, 2015 4:39 PM
FITCHBURG — Call it back-to-back three-peats.
The Frontier Regional girls volleyball team swept Lynnfield Saturday 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-20) to win its sixth consecutive state Division III championship.
“It’s amazing to think that we made it this far and did it again,” senior setter Emily Woodward said. “It’s sad that it’s over, but the feeling never ever gets old.”
After dropping the first set to Joseph Case in Wednesday’s state semifinal, Frontier coach Sean MacDonald wanted his team to come out with a sense of
urgency against Lynnfield, and the Red Hawks responded.
Frontier (22-3) jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead in the first, spreading the offense on kills from Rachel Cialek, Sunny Hunter, and Katherine Conlisk. Although
Cialek led the team with 19 kills, Frontier balanced the attacks with Cialek, Hunter, and middle Sarah Conlisk, which worked to its advantage.
“We knew that their outsides kind of pinched in when they were blocking, so we thought if we used the middles, that it would open up most of the outsides,”
Woodward said. “And right of the bat, we saw Sunny absolutely killing it.”
Fifteen of Frontier’s 25 points in the first set came on kills. Lynnfield (16-8) held only one lead in the first set, at 1-0 after Frontier was called for a double
“I was happy in this match that we jumped on them in the first set,” MacDonald said.
The Pioneers stormed out to an 8-1 lead in the second set, but the Red Hawks thought chipping away at Lynnfield’s lead was manageable.
“If you’re going to be down seven points, it’s really nice to be down at the beginning of the (set) instead of during the end because you don’t have a lot of time
to fix it,” MacDonald said.
That’s when the Red Hawks started to run their offense through Cialek as the primary attacker. A kill from her brought Frontier within three at 11-8, but then
Lynnfield extended its lead to 17-12. Three straight kills from Katherine Conlisk, Sarah Conlisk, and Cialek brought the Red Hawks within two. Back-to-back
Pioneer errors tied the score 17-17 and a Sara Corey ace on the next point gave Frontier the lead. Remi Quesnelle came through with four of her nine kills to
give Frontier four of the final six points of the set, including the set clincher.
“Once we started to play with more confidence and say ‘hey, we’re Frontier,’ we played better,” Quesnelle said.
Quesnelle finished the season with 306 kills, leading all of Western Massachusetts.
The third set saw ties late at 14-14, 15-15, 18-18, and 19-19, but the Red Hawks took seven of the final eight points to clinch the match. Cialek kills got
Frontier four of those points, including three consecutive kills to go up 24-19.
“Rachel Cialek is a powerhouse of a hitter,” Quesnelle said.
Woodward finished with 43 assists, giving her 2,245 for her career. Quesnelle said Frontier would be “nowhere” without her.
“Emily has been a really consistent setter for us all year,” she said. “We’re best friends, I’ve been playing with her since I was 12 so I was really excited to end
Frontier outlasts Case in state semifinal volleyball thriller
Posted Nov. 18, 2015 at 9:35 PM
Updated Nov 21, 2015 at 8:51 AM
NORTHBORO – Remi Quesnelle's back-row kill, followed by Katherine Conlisk's blooper of an ace, sealed Frontier Regional's thrilling 3-2 state semifinal
volleyball victory over Case on Wednesday at Algonquin Regional High School.
In the last five meetings between these teams, the Red Hawks have ended the Cardinals' season, but none of those previous matches came down to the wire
as this one did.
Frontier won 20-25, 25-15, 14-25, 25-18, 16-14.
The Cardinals led the match 2-1 after dominating the third set and held a 13-12 lead in the fourth before Quesnelle launched one of her 25 kills to tie it at 13-
13 and the Hawks never trailed in the set again.
"She was very tired and we probably use her too much sometimes, but when she's that productive, it's hard not to," said Frontier coach Sean MacDonald.
"She did a great job for us."
In the fifth and deciding set, neither team led by more than a point until a kill by Rachel Cialek put the Hawks in front 13-11. Cialek then added another kill to
make it 14-11, but the Cardinals weren't fazed.
"We work so hard on our mental toughness," said Case coach Michaela Goncalves. "They could've easily given up down 14-11, but we came back. They told
themselves they could do it. I think we were able to get this far because of our mental toughness."
The Cards rattled off the next three points to make it 14-14 before Quesnelle slammed home Frontier's 15th point with a thundering kill from the back row.
Conlisk followed by serving a looper that landed in for an ace, sending the Red Hawks into Saturday's state final.
Case dominated the first and third sets, leading by as many as nine in the first and winning by 11 in the third.
Frontier dominated the second set, leading 21-12 after a block by Sara Conlisk, and pulled away in the fourth.
"The mental game was what I was worried about," MacDonald said. "In no way did we ever take Case lightly, but I worried a little bit about us staying focused."
Hailey Armburg racked up 31 digs for the Cardinals and also served eight points and chalked up eight kills. Teammates Allyson DiCesare and Kaitlyn
Kopecky each registered eight kills.
Samantha Borges finished with 32 digs, while Julia Bushell finished with five kills and 11 digs in a strong all-around effort by the Cardinals.
"In a way it's disappointing because you're in the state semifinals and you're so close you can taste it," Goncalves said. "You want to take it from the top dog.
"But it's such an accomplishment to get where we did. The three seniors (DiCesare, Kopecky and Jordan Martin) really stepped it up. I am so humbled to
have been able to coach them."
Frontier’s senior class comes together to find
unprecedented success in 2015
By KYLE GRABOWSKI
The white soccer ball caromed from Zach Ells’ head, bouncing off the goal line as keeper Dylan Husted could only turn and watch it dance in the netting.
Douglas High School’s senior striker ended Frontier Regional’s boys soccer run with a diving flick inside the 6-yard box after flying through the 40-degree air.
It was cold, but not as cold as the night before in Grafton — a literally freezing affair that ended the same way for Frontier’s field hockey team.
Auburn’s Kileigh Hynes put the Rockets through to the state final that night with an overtime goal to win 1-0, same as the boys soccer score.
The Red Hawks and their fans felt the sting twice in two nights in state semifinals after driving an hour and a half to central Massachusetts both times.
They still had one hope, though.
Frontier’s girls volleyball team won its state semifinal in five sets 25 minutes away in Northborough and quickly boarded the bus to Bolton to catch the second
half of the boys soccer game.
Frontier football player Justin Farrick saw them in the stands.
He turned to Emily Woodward and her volleyball teammates and said, “Now you have to win it for all of us.”
The 2015 fall season will go down as one of the most successful in Frontier’s history.
Three Red Hawk teams won Western Mass. championships, the boys cross country team qualified for the state meet for the first time in its history and the girls
volleyball team captured its sixth consecutive state championship.
“We’ve had some really good seasons across the board, but I can’t remember any better than this,” longtime Frontier cross country assistant coach Walt
He’s been at Frontier since 1990, almost a half decade before the students in the senior class were born.
Each program that found success achieved it with the support of its peers and backed those peers in turn.
Some of that closeness comes from the proximity an enrollment of 600 provides.
The rest must be honed away from halls and classrooms.
Frontier principal Darius Modestow found just the place.
Two 14-passenger vans left Frontier Regional School at 9 a.m. on the Thursday before the fall season began, loaded with 22 seniors, Modestow and assistant
principal Scott Dredge.
They drove for an hour and 15 minutes to Ramblewild, an adventure park just off Route 7 between New Ashford and Lanesborough.
“It was like a jungle gym,” Farrick said.
After they unloaded, the athletes were divided into groups of four split by sport — volleyball players with football players, field hockey players and cross
country runners, etc.
“We’ve talked about the ups and downs of leadership in our schools, and we talked about different ways to address it in administrative meetings,” Modestow
said. “We felt (cross-sport support) could be better — from team-to-team support and more school pride in each other. We’ve seen it before.”
Senior volleyball setter Emily Woodward and her group tackled the highest possible course, which includes a long zip line.
She and the field hockey player in her group cruised across with ease and noticed a member of their group struggling.
“One of the football guys known for being tough took a couple times to get across,” Woodward said. “It was really a bonding moment for us.”
Field hockey senior Erika Poissant didn’t look like she’d make it off the ground at first.
She struggled with the opening features and told Modestow and her group that she wasn’t sure she could handle the full course.
“Two hours later she’s doing extremely difficult things 30 feet in the air,” Modestow said. “She was scared two feet of the ground. Later they were 25-30 feet in
Modestow focused on moments like that in their debrief.
He wanted to talk about individual and team goals the captains had but also scrutinize the exercise.
“We were critical of them. We asked, ‘Remember when you left people behind? When you were looking ahead to next obstacle and left people behind. What
was the difference between being supported verse being not?’,” Modestow said. “We felt there was a lot of a reigniting of the Red Hawk pride we had. We
haven’t seen that level of pride since the basketball championship in ’07.”
‘We’ve always been that athletic group’
The Class of 2016 saw it coming.
Perhaps not to the actual degree it occurred, but Frontier’s seniors knew they had a special group from a young age.
“We’ve always sort of been, my grade specifically, has always been pretty athletic. We were going through (yearbook) superlatives trying to figure out who
would be the ‘most athletic’,” field hockey senior Mindy Esposito said. “We’ve always been that athletic group.”
Some of the teams were expected to succeed.
The volleyball program had won 10 consecutive sectional titles, while the field hockey team claimed three of the previous four.
“It’s sort of expected for volleyball to win, and we’ve been pretty good the past few years now,” Esposito said.
The boys cross country and soccer teams built more slowly, persevering through sub-.500 seasons as underclassmen before finding success.
All told, the Red Hawks won six league championships during the fall season.
The football (9-2), boys soccer (15-4-2), girls volleyball (22-3), field hockey (18-3-0), golf (14-0-0) and boys cross country teams (13-0) all captured regular
season league titles in addition to the three sectional championships and one state title.
Including the girls cross country team (8-4) and girls soccer team (7-8-2), which missed the postseason by one point, Frontier teams went a collective 106-24-
4 this fall.
“I remember saying in middle school ‘when we’re juniors and seniors we’re going to be good,’” Esposito said.
Championships come and go
The Frontier fan bus pulled up to Renfrew field in Adams at 6:51 p.m.
Between 50 and 60 kids disembarked and marched through Hoosac territory to take up residence in the opposite bleachers for a 7 p.m. Western Mass.
Division 5 semifinal against top-seeded Hoosac Valley.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Farrick said. “We’re looking at them coming in like ‘there’s our backup, there’s what we need.’”
Hoosac Valley proved otherwise in a 28-6 victory that knocked the Red Hawks out of title contention.
The loss at the time eliminated Frontier’s second chance at a sectional championship after the golf team finished sixth at the sectional tournament in Lenox
two weeks prior.
Esposito and the field hockey team delivered the Red Hawks’ first sectional title of the season the next week with a 3-1 win over Greenfield in West Springfield.
That set up the boys soccer team and girls volleyball team to add to the tally on Nov. 14 with two finals spaced hours apart with the cross country race
“I think once we all knew we had a chance at winning three Western Mass. titles we were like ‘we’ve got to get it done,’” Esposito said. “Nobody wanted to be
the team that lost.”
Volleyball ends it with a flourish
After the two state semifinal overtime losses, the pressure to succeed fell squarely on the volleyball team.
For some, including Woodward, it meant an opportunity to finish all six of their varsity seasons with a state championship.
But past success doesn’t guarantee it in the future, and whispers of doubt had emerged from the volleyball team throughout the year.
“There were a lot of doubts this year, maybe not in the paper or surrounding teams, but I know for them personally they said ‘we don’t know if we can do it, we
don’t know if we can pull it out,” Esposito said.
They weren’t fighting for it alone, though.
The accumulated support of a season paid off in a 3-0 win over Lynnfield to clinch the program’s eighth state title.
A class came together, supported each other and lifted an athletic department to heights it hadn’t seen.
“Our school usually doesn’t have the most school spirit, but our senior class really wanted to change that, and the juniors did, as well,” Woodward said. “We
wanted to show up to each other’s games. It helped us go above and beyond.”
Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frontier meets familiar foe Case in state Division 3 girls
By MICHAEL WILKINSON
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
(Published in print: Wednesday, November 18, 2015)
The Frontier Regional girls volleyball team’s drive for a fifth consecutive state Division 3 title was one point away from ending in the 2014 state semifinals.
Now that they’ve reached that round yet again, the Red Hawks face a different opponent, but the lesson learned still motivates them.
Against Lynnfield, Frontier staved off four match points in the fourth set and went on to win the deciding fifth.
“Honestly, I think we figured that match would be much easier than it was,” MacDonald said. “That obviously wasn’t the case and we were very lucky to get
through it. We talked about that match (Monday) during practice. We’re not going to overlook anyone. We’re expecting a huge fight, like it should be at this
This year’s opponent — Case of Swansey — is anything but unfamiliar, however. Following the semifinal scare, Frontier went on to defeat Case 3-1 for the
program’s fifth straight title.
The match is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Algonquin Regional in Northborough. The winner advances to Saturday’s noon state final at Fitchburg High.
In the 2014 state championship, the Red Hawks and Cardinals split the opening pair of sets before Frontier took the final two fairly easily to claim the crown.
The teams went the distance in the 2011 final, with Frontier winning in five sets.
The Red Hawks (20-3) swept through their three sectional tournament games, but were challenged in the first and third sets by Lee in the final Saturday.
MacDonald feels western Mass. volleyball is improving every year, and that his team must continue to improve its game to maintain its edge.
“Our opponents are all getting better and I like that. Both Lee and Ware put up a good fight for most of those matches,” he said. “So we’re being challenged
more and more in our own area. It’s not nearly as easy as people may expect it to be.”
Through the sectional tournament, Remi Quesnelle leads Frontier in kills (272), digs (218) and aces (97). Emily Woodward (655 assists, 50 aces) helps set up
Quesnelle, Rachel Cialek (234 kills, 47 aces) and Sarah Conlisk (117 kills, 44 aces).
Hannah Adams (152 digs), Sara Corey (137) and Katherine Conlisk (110) are all strong defensive players.
“We’re looking to smooth out our passing and serving, which can always be better,” MacDonald said. “We also worked on some things we could adjust into if
necessary. But we want to do what we typically do and do it as well as we can.”
Case (22-2) won four matches to take the South title, and likewise earned 3-0 sweeps in all of them.
“They lost quite a bit from last year’s team, so they’ve done a great job to get back to this point,” MacDonald said. “They’re a different team from the one we
played in the state final. I remember a few of their kids, but I don’t even think I want to watch the tape of that match because it will probably be misleading. I’m
sure the returners are all better players.”
The Cardinals’ attack is led by senior captains Ally Dicesare (180 kills, 99 digs, 18 aces) and Kaitlyn Kopecky (134 kills, 56 blocks, 53 digs, 26 aces). Setter
Madison Majewski has 615 of 669 team assists, as well as a team-high 56 aces.
But Case wins largely on defense, as exhibited by the its five players with triple-digit digs. Sam Borges (390), senior captain Jordan Martin (242) and Hailey
Armburg (238) are all well over 200. Kopecky (56 blocks) and Julia Bushell (54) are tough at the net.
“They’ve always been known for their defense, and that seems to be the case again,” MacDonald said. “You can try to ask (other coaches who’ve played
them), but those are just opinions. I would have liked to see them myself.”
The MIAA rotates the state tournament matchups year by year. This season the West and South champions lined up on the same side of the bracket.
“Everyone is motivated to play our best and win what hopefully will be two more matches,” MacDonald said. “There’s a heightened focus, especially among the
seniors. But we need all our players to get through this week.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at email@example.com.
Unimaginable 11 straight titles
By MARK DURANT Recorder Staff
Sunday, November 22, 2015
HOLYOKE — The streak will eventually end, but Frontier Regional School made sure it didn’t happen this year.
The top-seeded Red Hawks absorbed everything second-seeded Lee High School threw at them before they were able to claim their 11th consecutive
Western Massachusetts Division III Girls’ Volleyball championship, 25-21, 25-11, 25-20, Saturday afternoon at the David M. Bartley Center.
Frontier (20-3) advanced to the state semifinals against six-time South sectional champion Joseph Case High School of Swansea (22-2) Wednesday at 5 p.m.
at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough.
“Lee is a good opponent, they really brought it and played very well,” said Red Hawks head coach Sean MacDonald. “They weren’t intimidated at all. I think
there were some jitters on our side.”
The Red Hawks have swept their last eight WMass finals opponents, but this match did not have the look of a sweep whatsoever. The Wildcats, led by 13th-
year head coach John Warner, played a go-for-broke style and did it with poise, determination and aggression — a combination Frontier rarely sees in the
“We played with them in the first and third games,” said Warner. “They’re a phenomenal team and Sean is a great coach. There’s no doubt they were the
stronger team, but I think we showed more heart.”
That was plenty evident during a topsy-turvy opening set that featured eight ties and five lead changes. And, unlike previous times when it appeared the Red
Hawks seemed to take control, Lee refused to go away. After Frontier grabbed its first lead at 5–4, Wildcat freshman Bailey Thomas registered a huge block
to regain the momentum and spur a four-point rally that put Lee in front, 8-5.
The Wildcats (19-3) were able to hang onto the lead until Katherine Conlisk (5 kills, 3 aces, 6 digs) registered a kill to tie the match at 11. After a missed
serve, the Wildcats regained the lead and used two service points from junior captain Kendra Williams to take a 14-11 lead.
Frontier continued to battle back, briefly grabbing a 15-14 lead, but once Lee retook the lead right away and the teams kept flip-flopping points until Conlisk’s
float serve hit the net and dropped over for an ace to put Frontier ahead to stay, 18-17.
The Wildcats kept pushing and closed the gap to one, 22-21, before a serving error gave the ball back to Frontier and senior quad captain Emily Woodward
(36 assists, 3 kills, 4 digs) served for the final two points, closing it out with an ace.
“I think we were a little nervous in the first set, and Lee was so scrappy,” said Woodward. “They had nothing to lose, and they were going after every ball and
putting us in tough situations.”
“We kind of rattled them a little in the first set,” confirmed Warner.
The Red Hawks, who dominated the middle set by hitting a robust .625, actually trailed early before Sarah Conlisk’s kill put them up 6-5, and Hannah Adams
served for the next 4 points to make it 10-5. Lee tried to hang tough and got as close as 11-7, but a missed serve by the Wildcats led to a 9-1 Frontier run
that extended their advantage to 20-8.
Remi Quesnelle, who was the catalyst of the Red Hawks on both offense and defense (13 kills, 12 digs, 5 aces), recorded 5 points, 1 ace and a back-row kill
during the decisive rally. Lee finally came unglued for the first time in the match, committing five unforced errors as the Hawks took command. Both Conlisks
had a kill during the final portion of the set, and a Lee return went out on set point.
“I thought in Set 2 we looked good,” said MacDonald. “We were doing some good stuff in Set 3, we got a little run going and then we slammed on our own
Lee built a 5-2 lead in the third set, but Frontier got a point back and Katherine Conlisk served for the next 5 points to put the Red Hawks ahead 8-5. They
tried to put Lee away but the Wildcats’ resilience, defense and strong play from Williams, Picard and Shenna Tyler helped them stay within striking distance.
They eventually tied it twice, but each time an error gave the Hawks the lead back, the second time for good.
Lee got as close as 21-19 before Woodward’s ace sparked the final scoring run, and Katherine Conlisk wrapped up the crown with a kill on match point.
It was a great match-ending kill for Conlisk, a senior outside hitter, who missed last season with a concussion and battled an ankle injury most of 2013.
“I enjoyed seek Katherine play in the finals this year” said MacDonald. “She’s had such bad luck (with injuries). I thought it was fitting for her to get that kill on
match point and start the celebration. She’s worked hard for the team.”
Rachel Cialek and Sarah Conlisk both finished with 8 kills for the champions, while Sara Corey and Sunny Hunter played well defensively.
Woodward savored her final WMass title on the court with teammates, friends and family afterward, enjoying every hug and picture along the way.
“I feel so lucky and grateful to be a part of this program,” she said. “Every year it’s different, like a different journey, so it never gets old.”
Warner was likewise pleased with his team’s effort, but also praised the Red Hawks afterward.
“They have a multi-faceted offense and they bring it from all directions. It’s a well-oiled machine,” he said. “Our strategy was to serve really strong and we did
“We are a very young team,” added Warner, who loses only Picard to graduation. “We’re going to be back and we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. I’
m very proud of our team, they far exceeded my expectations, and they really held up to the (No. 2) seed they were given.”
Red Hawks face Lee, go after 11th straight title
By MARK DURANT Recorder Staff
Sunday, November 22, 2015
There are those who have joked that Frontier Regional School has been to the David. M. Bartley Center at Holyoke Community College so many times for the
Western Massachusetts Division III Girls’ Volleyball Championship that it should be included on the schedule before the season begins.
All kidding aside, the Red Hawks have worked tirelessly since the opening day of practice and played arguably the toughest schedule in the state for a
Division III squad to prepare for their 12th consecutive appearance in the WMass final. Now the deserving top-seeds will face a familiar foe in second-seeded
Lee High School today at 4:30 p.m. for the right to advance to the state tournament.
Frontier (19-3) — riding a 37-match winning streak overall against WMass opponents — and Lee (19-2) met just 12 days ago in the regular season finale for
both schools, and the Red Hawks posted a 25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-14 victory.
Don’t expect the 10-time defending WMass and five-time defending state champion Red Hawks to take the Berkshire League champion Wildcats lightly,
however. Frontier head coach Sean Macdonald knows all too well how good they can be, and that 13th-year head coach John Warner will have his squad
ready to play.
Warner will utilize a 6-2 offense with senior Courtney Picard and junior Kendra Williams as the primary setters. Williams quarterbacks the offense, and she
recorded 1,000th career assist in Lee’s quarterfinal win over Athol High School.
The Wildcats are mostly young up front, as left-handed sophomore outside hitter Ahna Schlaefer and freshman middle hitter Bailey Thomas are the top
threats at the net. Their serving can be especially effective, according to Macdonald. Junior Shenna Tyler has a brutal hard low float serve, and Picard has a
firm serve with topspin, which will keep Frontier’s serve receivers on their toes throughout the match.
“They put the ball in good spots on the floor and play all out on defense,” added MacDonald, who made the journey to the Berkshires to scout the match.
Frontier has no real secrets to its game — the Red Hawks run a 5-1 offense with senior captain Emily Woodward as the setter. Woodward, a two-time Mass.
State Coaches Division III All-Star selection, registered her 2,000th career assist in their five-set loss to Division II Eastern Mass. power Westborough High
Remi Quesnelle is one of the main front row threats with a team-leading 259 kills. The senior captain also leads the team in aces (92) and digs (206).
Classmate Rachel Cialek has cracked up 226 kills and 47 aces, while senior captain Sarah Conlisk has pitched in with 109 kills. Katherine Conlisk is another
viable option at the net, as well as a versatile player (74 kills, 104 digs, 25 aces), and Sunny Hunter can also take care of business up front (45 kills, team-high
14 solo blocks).
Hannah Adams (147 digs) and Sara Corey (132 digs) are the top defensive specialists.
Frontier beat Lee, 3-0, in their only other finals meeting in 2009.
“John has mentioned how Frontier has been a thorn in his (backside) for 10 years and he would like that to end,” said Macdonald.
Easier said than done.
PLAYOFF TRADITION: It's Case and Frontier once again
in state volleyball final four
By Greg Sullivan
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Nov. 17, 2015 at 11:44 AM
Updated Nov 26, 2015 at 6:59 AM
It hasn't quite been an annual meeting. But a Case-Frontier volleyball final four collision has become more rule than exception.
When these two acknowledged powerhouse programs play in the state Division 3 semifinals on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Algonquin Regional High School in
Northborough, it will mark their fifth meeting in the last seven seasons.
Case (22-2) won the first of those, in the state semifinal enroute to a state title in 2009. It's been all Frontier since, with the Red Hawks, winners of the last five
state championships, beating Case in the state final in 2010, 2011, and 2014.
Frontier coach Sean MacDonald said despite the familiarity, there's no sense of Frontier (20-3) owning a mental edge over Case or, in contrast, it being
Case's turn to win.
"We have a lot of respect for Case," MacDonald said after practice on Monday. "We're just taking it as another match. We expect them to be motivated after
last year. We try not to read too much into it."
In 2009, the Cardinals won a very competitive 3-1 match. In 2010, the Red Hawks dominated 3-0.
In 2011, it was the ultimate showdown between the two teams everyone expected to reach the state final. Frontier won a magnificent battle 3-2.
Last year, underdog Case, under then rookie head coach Michaela Goncalves, put up a good fight before losing 3-1. The Cardinals graduated seven seniors
but are right back in Frontier's face.
"She lost some quality players and they're right back," MacDonald said. "I give a lot of credit to Michaela and her staff and credit the players at Case."
Case returns a handful a players from a year ago, so the West champion isn't going into this match blind. He said he's also managed to gather some tidbits of
information on Case.
"I remember some of their returning players, but what I remember is from a year ago," he said. "I haven't even watched the video (of the '14 state final). The
video could be lying to me."
And what of his own team, whose three losses have come at the hands of Division 2 semifinalists Notre Dame of Hingham (twice) and Westborough?
"We're doing pretty well," MacDonald said. "We have a lot of the same people but have a little different spin on things. It's different every year. We graduated
a lot of people who played in the supporting cast."
Some of the Frontier faces, names and numbers Case fans may remember include senior setter Emily Woodward (2,000-plus career assists), 5-foot-8 senior
Remi Quesnelle, 5-11 senior Rachel Cialek, and 5-10 senior Sarah Conlisk.
The Red Hawks own a significant size advantage over the Cardinals.
As coach of five straight state champions, MacDonald said he sometimes gets asked if it's too easy. He responds by noting how Frontier, from South
Deerfield, has prevailed in some painfully close playoff matches. The Red Hawks trailed Case late in Game 4 in 2011. And in last year's state semifinals
against Lynnfield, Frontier won 3-2 after trailing Lynnfield 24-20 in the fourth set.
Page 2 of 2 - "The difference between five state championships and two or three is a couple of points," he said. "That's what I'm looking for every day. How do
we get one more point?"
Goncalves said on Tuesday preparations for Frontier have gone well and whether her team is considered an underdog or not is irrelevant.
"We don't care what anybody labels us," she said. "We just know we're prepared for the game (Wednesday). The statistics may say one thing. Their
reputation may say one thing. But humans play the game and we're definitely ready for it."
Goncales said she made a rookie coaching mistake last year by not showing her team online videos of Frontier she had found. "I hurt the team. That's on
me," she said.
This year, she said, she has again successfully scoured YouTube and this time she's sharing with her appreciative team.
"They've told me how confident they are," Goncalves said. "They say, 'We can see their tenedencies. We can beat them.'
"It's a true confidence."
"It's really exciting to know that we get the chance to play them again and prove ourselves," senior captain Kaitlyn Kopecky said via a text. "We've worked so
hard and earned every practice, so we're ready to play."
Case has definitely embraced 21st century technology. Director of athletics Andrew Crisafulli purchased the popular computer video program "Hudl" for the
fall teams. Best known for its football application, Hudl has been a huge hit with the volleyball team.
"It's so great. Each girl gets her own log-in," Goncalves said. "They all watch it. It's almost an addiction. They critique themselves. They do it on their own time.
They watch during study. Some watch it while they're eating breakfast at 6 in the morning. This is definitely an intelligent group of volleyball players."
In the other Division 3 semifinal, Lynnfield and Sutton were to play on Tuesday night. In the second half of Wednesday's doubleheader at Algonquin, Notre
Dame plays Longmeadow in the Division 2 semifinal, also a South vs. West matchup.
Email Greg Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @GregSullivanHN.
State D-III girls volleyball final preview: Experienced
Frontier faces Lynnfield, seeks sixth straight title
By Brandon Chase | email@example.com
on November 20, 2015 9:56 PM
SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Frontier Regional girls volleyball team spent the first part of Friday’s practice not in the school’s Vi Goodnow Gymnasium, but in
a classroom directly across from the main office.
The Red Hawks watched the game film of their 2014 state Division III semifinal win over Lynnfield to prepare for another matchup with the Pioneers, this time
in Saturday’s state final at Fitchburg High School at noon. A win would give the Red Hawks their sixth straight state title.
Frontier (21-3) is hoping for the same outcome as last season’s meeting, but not the fashion in which it happened. The Red Hawks were down 24-20 in the
fourth set, trailing in the match 2-1, before they came back to tie the set 24-24, win it 28-26, and take the fifth set 15-7.
In this season’s state semifinal, Frontier also came back against Joseph Case, taking the fourth set in more convincing fashion (25-18), but was pushed to
the brink in set five, winning 16-14.
For Frontier’s eight seniors, they couldn’t have picked a better opponent or stage on which to end their high school careers.
“I’m really excited to play (them),” senior opposite Remi Quesnelle said of facing Lynnfield. “We’ve heard they’re a great team, I’m looking forward to a good
Quesnelle is three kills away from 300 on the season, a milestone last hit by Cassidy Stankowski in 2012.
Frontier’s core has been together since 2013, when players such as Quesnelle, setter Emily Woodward, and middles Sarah and Katherine Conlisk all
stepped into the lineup as sophomores. While coach Sean MacDonald said during the preseason that his talented, experienced group is “a good problem to
have,” it has not been without its challenges.
“I think the challenge this year has been all the extra stuff outside of volleyball,” MacDonald said. “They’re all stressed out about applying to college,
SATs…all kinds of extra stuff that’s a stressful point in life. ‘Where do I go to school? I’ve got to pass this class.’ There’s always little things I want to fix on the
volleyball team, but I can’t do much about all the extra stuff outside of volleyball.”
Now, Frontier’s final challenge is stopping Lynnfield (16-7) to continue its postseason dominance Since beginning the state title streak in 2010, the Red
Hawks have won 30 consecutive postseason matches, losing only eight of 98 total sets played.
The Pioneers also haven’t lost a set this postseason, sweeping Austin Prep in the North sectional tournament final before beating Central Mass. champion
Sutton in the state semifinals. Lynnfield also played a tough regular-season schedule, with all of their losses coming to Division I or II teams.
Frontier will have to slow down junior outside hitter Katie Nugent, who leads Lynnfield with 245 kills this season. MacDonald said that in watching film of
Lynnfield this season, Nugent is its primary hitting option.
As another season ends in the state title game for the Red Hawks, they’ve found themselves having accomplished two main goals. Saturday is when they
can check off number three.
“Every year we set three goals, and these goals this year happened to be (win) league, Western Mass. and states,” Quesnelle said. “We kind of just remind
ourselves every practice, these are our goals and we want to reach them.”