Published: 5/24/2023 8:37:10 PM
Modified: 5/24/2023 8:34:40 PM
SOUTH DEERFIELD – Scoring points or winning sets brought no comfort to the top-seeded Frontier Regional boys volleyball team against Ware in Wednesday’s Western Massachusetts Class C semifinal.
The Redhawks coaching staff regularly reminded them to not be complacent. Co-coaches Sean MacDonald and Courtney Parent emphasize not missing consecutive serves, let alone three in a row.
“It’s that mentality of you get comfortable. We tell them a lot that you can’t get comfortable because the game is not over yet,” Parent said. “You’ve won nothing yet. You’ve won the first set, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
That mentality extended for the entire match. Even after sweeping No. 4 Ware 3-0 to return to the Western Massachusetts final, Frontier (17-2) hadn’t won anything except the semifinal.
“It’s pretty awesome, but at the same time it brings a lot of nerves because we’re trying to defend our trophy,” Frontier senior captain Jesse Kurkulonis said. “You have to pull through and not choke.”
Kurkulonis delivered against Ware. He put down 12 kills with three aces and four digs. The Redhawks built a 13-5 lead in the first set on an Aleks Carey block. He finished with eight kills and four aces.
Frontier prevailed 25-13 in the opening set, but Ware jumped out to a 7-4 lead early in the second. The staff largely let the Redhawks play through it. Sophomore setter Tavo Vincent-Warner helped stabilize the game. He had 34 assists with two aces, contributing to more than half of Frontier’s points.
“I feel confident in all the players, sometimes even the easiest ball, I can feel confident putting it there,” Vincent-Warner said.
The Redhawks tied the set 9-9 on a Ware hitting error, then Jack Carey (seven kills) gave them the lead for good on a block. Frontier won the set 25-15.
Kurkulonis put Frontier’s noses in front 7-6 in the third set with a kill. MacDonald earned a yellow card midway through the set when he pulled back a substitute after initially sending him to the scorer’s table to replace the server. MacDonald took the card so sophomore William Petrin could serve. He responded with an ace.
“He’s been working hard in practice, sophomore, hasn’t been playing a lot. We were hoping to get him into this game,” MacDonald said. “The third set we got to play him a little bit more.”
Frontier also found time for junior varsity call-ups seventh grader Dean Gray and freshman Benjamin Ayotte. The second-year program is already building depth with postseason experience.
“We don’t know if we’ll be able to do it again,” MacDonald said. “They had good JV season and we wanted to reward them when we can and make them feel like they’re part of the program because they are a part of the program.”
Frontier hasn’t faced Southwick since last year’s final, but MacDonald took in the other semifinal against Granby.
“They’ve got a physical team. They’ve got big guys. I joke if you spray painted them green they’d look like the Hulk, muscular, strong guys,” MacDonald said. “I’m sure they’re looking to flip the script.”
Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.