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Frontier finishes strong

It isn't easy to go out on top following a season-ending loss, but Frontier may have pulled it off.

The Falcons saw one of their most successful seasons come to a close after a four-game defeat to eventual state champion McQuaid in the Far West Regionals.

"It was the highest level of volleyball I've ever been involved with. Both teams left it out on the court," said Frontier coach Bill Faust. "It was incredible to be a part of it."

Making the ride possible were seniors Drew Durni, Matt Taylor and Nick Smalter, who were all recently named to the 2011 All-Western New York team.

The state championships in boys volleyball are in their second year, with Section VI yet to send a representative.

"Section V and VI are both super powers, and now with the format, it is what it is, we have to play each other to move on, and if you survive that challenge, you might be looking at a state title like McQuaid," said Faust.

Frontier finished the season 29-4 having defended its Section VI Class A title. The Falcons also won the Clarence and Hamburg tournaments. Faust said an early-season loss to Canisius gave his team some focus.

The 29th annual ALL-WNY team was chosen by a panel of area coaches. The eight-player first team includes five seniors and three juniors. Teams with multiple picks were Frontier with three and Orchard Park with two. It's the 11th year in a row Orchard Park has had at least one first-teamer.

Repeat picks are both from Frontier: Durni and Smalter.

John Coyle of Lake Shore was named the WNY Coach of the Year by his peers. The Eagles knocked off Hamburg to win Class B, its first Section VI title since 1995. Two-time defending champion Eden lost in four games to Williamsville South in the Class B quarterfinals.

Three of Lake Shore's 17 wins, against four losses, came at the expense of Hamburg, its ECIC II rival. Two of the three matches went five games. Lake Shore also took Orchard Park to five games before losing.

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Even dozen for Canisius

Canisius is represented on All-WNY by junior Dave Jepson. He was named the Monsignor Martin Association Player of the Year after leading the Crusaders to their 12th consecutive playoff title. Jepson had 18 kills and five aces in the final against St. Francis.

Canisius won all its league matches in three games this season. Canisius' 21-4 record includes a win over No. 1 ranked Frontier in an atmosphere described as "electric" by coach Tom Weislo.

Russell Fiorella, Jack Fleming and Peter McKelvey had All-Catholic seasons for the Crusaders.

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Around the nets

ECIC titles went to teams all finishing 12-0 as Frontier won ECIC I, Lake Shore won ECIC II and Eden won ECIC III. Grand Island and Lockport both finished 11-1 to share the Niagara Frontier League title. St. Mary's won the Grand Island and North Tonawanda Tournaments. In the final WNY Coaches Poll, Frontier was voted No. 1 with seven first-place votes, Canisius was No. 2 with three. Durni of Frontier was named the Section VI recipient of the state-sponsored sportsmanship award. Section VI had four teams ranked among the top 10 in the state academically. Sweet Home was No. 3 (96.6 collective average), Lake Shore was No. 5 (95.0), Lockport was No. 7 (94.9) and Hamburg was No. 10 (94.6).

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com