- Scott Barboza, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. -- You can make a strong case that Cassidy Stankowski is Frontier Regional volleyball.
You’d be hard pressed to find a student-athlete that’s been with a program for 10 years, but it’s been a family affair for the Stankowski clan. Cassidy’s been around the program since long before high school, tagging along with her father Jack to her older sister Alyssa’s games. In sixth grade, Stankowski graduated to statistician for Sean MacDonald’s team. In her seventh grade year, she started playing with the Red Hawks as a libero on the varsity team.
But now, many years and three state championships later, the road has come to an end for the reigning Gatorade Massachusetts Volleyball Player of the Year. With a 3-0 sweep of Eastern Massachusetts champion Lynnfield Saturday at Algonquin Regional, the Red Hawks claimed their third straight MIAA Division 3 volleyball title, the fifth for the Red Hawks.
“I’ve been putting this jersey on for six years and, now that it’s come to an end, I don’t even have any words to describe what I feel,” Stankowski said.
The Red Hawks carried the games 25-19, 25-16 and 25-21, but they hit bumps along the way.
It wasn’t the idyllic ending McDonald was looking for – after all, the bar’s been placed so high with the Red Hawks dropping just one match in their two previous championship seasons.
“We weren’t very smooth, but we did things well enough to win,” MacDonald said.
He continued, “Lynnfield’s a good team and I think they forced us into some things that were taking us out of our game.”
Frontier was still able to rely on Stankowski, who led the Red Hawks with 17 kills in addition to 14 digs. While Frontier’s setting game was shaky at times, particularly during the second game, senior Tori Whitney tallied 24 assists and 12 digs on the back line. Junior Sarah Woodward added 12 kills for the Red Hawks.
“Sarah’s been playing strong for us, she’s really come on down the stretch,” MacDonald said of Woodward.
Yet, it always goes back to the Red Hawks’ senior captian.
“When we’re not passing well, that’s kind of where we have to go,” MacDonald said of Stankowski. “If we get a good set, we can hit her; if we don’t get a good set, she can get it, too. Cassidy is Cassidy. She’s just so solid, that if you we get a good set, there’s a good chance that it’s going to be a point.”
A SPECIAL TALENT
McDonald, who’s coached plenty of fine players in his tenure at Frontier, was asked exactly what mad Stankowski so special. A versatile player who MacDonald plugged into many positions, he remarked that her instincts on the court are what set Stankowski, who signed her National Letter of Intent to Central Connecticut State this, apart.
“Sometimes she’ll know where the ball is going before anyone else, and she’ll fly to the ball and cut in front of someone to get there,” McDonald said. “Sometimes I just want them to read it, too, but she’s so fast and instinctive, she gets there first.”
As for Stankowski, who’s been a part of three championship teams now, she was pressed who the Red Hawks title-winning teams have differed from each other. While acknowledging all teams are different, she reflected on one key element that all those squads shared.
“I think that every time I’ve ever played on is completely different, each team has its own character,” Stankowski said. “We definitely all get along. This team, we definintely, with it being our senior year, we wanted to make the best of it. All of us, all the time, we just have fun. We haven’t butted heads at all, and if we’ve had problems, we’ve figured it out. We were one, big, happy family.”