End of Line
FITCHBURG -- The final chapter of the Academy of Notre Dame volleyball team’s storybook season unfortunately didn’t come equipped with a happy ending.
Frontier 3 Notre Dame 0
Throughout the fall, the Lancers had overcome every challenge they faced. But Notre Dame just didn’t have any answers for Frontier Regional’s strong net play and serving with a berth to the state championship match on the line.
With senior outside Lauren Davenport leading the way, Frontier defeated Notre Dame, 3-0, in an MIAA Division 3 state semifinal match Wednesday night at Fitchburg High School.
Notre Dame played hard from start to finish against Frontier, which is located in South Deerfield. But Frontier started fast and was able to maintain its momentum while topping the Lancers, 25-14, 25-14, 25-17.
Alexis Kirkland led the way for NDA with eight kills and nine digs.
Notre Dame finishes the season with an impressive 23-1 record. The Lancers were the No. 1 seed in Division 3 North. NDA beat Winthrop (3-0), Greater Lowell Tech (3-0), Lowell Catholic (3-0) and Ipswich (3-0) en route to advancing to the state semifinal.
“It was a great season,” said NDA head coach Richard Sierra. “I’m very proud of our effort. To be one of the teams still playing at this point in the season is a big credit to the girls.”
Frontier improves its record to 16-6. The Red Hawks have won all four of their postseason matches by shutout. A perennial state power, Frontier will be making its eighth straight appearance in the state title match. Frontier had its streak of six straight state championships snapped by Case last November. The Red Hawks have won 13 straight West sectional crowns.
“We knew they were a good team,” said Frontier head coach Sean MacDonald. “We knew Alexis is a great player. They have some really nice pieces. We knew it wouldn’t be easy. We took nothing for granted.
“I want to congratulate NDA on a great season. I like Rich their new coach. They have a really nice team.”
In Game 1, NDA was only down, 7-5, when Frontier went on an 18-9 run to close out the set. In Game 2, strong serving by Kate Scarano, Emma Thompson and Angie Nguyen had the Lancers within striking distance of Frontier. With Frontier holding on to a 15-13 lead, the Red Hawks went on a 10-1 run to close out the set behind the serving of Sarah Zoly. Frontier took charge early in Game 3, jumping out to a 9-2 lead and stretched its advantage to 23-11 before NDA finished strong.
“Credit the coaching on the other side,” said Sierra. “They were defensively sound. I thought we prepared to the best of our ability for this particular opponent. Looking forward, I anticipate there will be future matchups between our schools.”
NDA received strong play from Alivia Farris (5 digs), Thompson (2 aces), Emily Richard (3 blocks) and Dennise Annan (strong net play).
It was the final match for the Lancers’ talented senior class of Kirkland, Farris, Thompson, Nguyen, Richard, Annan and Scarano.
“I was able to coach seven wonderful people who just so happen to be good at volleyball,” said Sierra. “That’s a credit to who they are and what type of people NDA produces.”
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi