Cape outlasts Yarmouth in battle of unbeatens

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Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team celebrates a point during its 3-1 home win over Yarmouth Thursday in a battle of unbeaten teams.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

CAPE ELIZABETH—The future is very bright for Yarmouth’s volleyball team.

But the future is now for the Cape Elizabeth Capers.

Two of the state’s best teams, both without a loss and coming in riding a wave of momentum after pivotal victories, did battle in an entertaining early-season match Thursday evening in Cape Elizabeth’s gym and suggested that they might meet again with even more at stake.

The freshman-laden Clippers, who just beat Greely for the first time in program history, carried play in much of the first set, leading by as many as six points, 21-15, but the more seasoned Capers, who rallied from two sets down to beat Biddeford Tuesday, saved their best for last, riding the setting of senior Maggie Dadmun and the powerful hitting of junior Megan Connelly to rally and win, 25-23.

Yarmouth built a lead again in the second set and while Cape Elizabeth again rallied to go ahead, this time, the Clippers surged late, retook the lead and went on to a 25-21 victory as freshman Evelyn Lukis closed it out with successive kills.

The Capers then never trailed in the third game and thanks to an eight-point service run from Connelly, rolled to a 25-17 win.

Cape Elizabeth would close out the match in the fourth set, but Yarmouth didn’t go quietly. Ultimately, however, Connelly and Dadmun made the key plays and a 25-21 decision ended things 3-1 in the Capers’ favor.

Cape Elizabeth improved to 6-0 and handed the Clippers their first loss in five matches in the process.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but (Yarmouth) came to play,” said Capers coach Sarah Boeckel. “I think we’re lucky to pull that out. We thought we’d come off the Biddeford win and play our game. I’m happy we didn’t have to go five (sets) again.”

New Class B powers

With high school volleyball going to three classes this fall, Cape Elizabeth was relegated down to Class B and Yarmouth returned to Class B, where it won the state title in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Suffice it to say that both teams have made their presence felt in the early going.

Yarmouth won its first three matches by 3-0 scores, downing visiting York and Brunswick and host South Portland, then Tuesday, won by a 3-0 margin this time, making history in the process, as it beat visiting Greely, the defending Class A champion, for the first time.

Cape Elizabeth started with 3-0 wins over visiting Kennebunk and host Gardiner and Brunswick. After downing visiting Mt. Desert Island in four sets in a playoff rematch, the Capers rallied to stun host Biddeford, 3-2.

“Winning at Biddeford was important,” said Connelly. “The team rallied and our passing was on.”

Prior to Thursday’s match, the teams had played 11 times with Yarmouth taking eight (see sidebar, below). Last fall, the Clippers prevailed, 3-1, in Cape Elizabeth.

This time around, in a close match, the Capers did just enough to stay unbeaten.

In the first set, Cape Elizabeth led, 1-0 and 2-1, but Yarmouth opened up leads of 6-3, 9-4 (on a kill from freshman Kaitlyn Bennett) and 11-6. The Capers closed within 12-10 on a Connelly kill and after two quick Clippers’ points, they cut the deficit to 14-13, but Yarmouth gradually opened it up again and took a 21-15 on an ace from freshman Mayzie Mulkern which hung on the net and fell to floor.

The Clippers couldn’t finish it off, however, as a fault was followed by a Connelly kill, an ace from senior Anna Torre and two more Connelly kills to pull the hosts within a single point, 21-20. A fault gave Yarmouth a point back, but Cape Elizabeth kept on coming, tying the score, 22-22, on an ace from junior Kalie Manning. The Clippers went back ahead when the Capers hit the ball into the net, but Dadmun caught Yarmouth off-guard, expecting her to set the ball and killed it into the back row instead to tie it. Dadmun then served up an ace and when the Clippers hit the ball out on the next point, Cape Elizabeth had a 25-23 first set victory.

“It was important to win that set,” said Dadmun. “It was all mental. Biddeford proved we can come back.”

“We had a lot of momentum in that first set, then we froze up a little,” Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal lamented. “That’ll happen to a team full of freshmen. Sometimes the moment gets a little too big.”

The second set started tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4, but Bennett served up six straight points, capped by an ace, to give Yarmouth an 11-4 lead. Back roared the Capers within 11-10 thanks to five consecutive service points from Torre. An ace from Manning tied the match, 12-12, but Lukis responded with an ace for the Clippers. After Connelly tied the score with a kill, Lukis had a kill and junior Marie LeBlanc’s ace made it 15-13 Clippers. Cape Elizabeth responded once more, tying the score on a Torre kill, then taking a 17-16 lead.

Yarmouth got a point back, then went ahead to stay on consecutive Mulkern kills. A LeBlanc kill extended the lead to 21-18. Sophomore Jaya McClure countered with a kill for the hosts, but freshman Maggie Murray had a kill for the Clippers to make the score 22-19, forcing Boeckel to call timeout. After a block from junior Brooke Harvey drew the Capers within two, a service fault gave Yarmouth a point. Senior Madison Sarka answered with a kill for Cape Elizabeth, but successive Lukis kills closed out the set in the Clippers’ favor, 25-21, tying the match, 1-1.

The third game would be pivotal and the Capers quickly seized control.

With the score tied, 1-1, junior Celeste Kilgore and Dadmun had consecutive kills to put Cape Elizabeth on top. Yarmouth pulled within 4-3 on a kill from Bennett, but the next three points went to the Capers, capped by a Connelly kill. A Mulkern ace cut the deficit to 7-5, but after a nice dig from senior Madeline Bauman, Connelly’s kill made it 10-6. The Clippers got the next point, but a Dadmun ace stretched the lead to 13-7. A block from Lukis and an ace from junior Dominique Moran pulled the visitors within three, but Connelly countered with a kill, then stepped to line, where she produced eight straight points, including a pair of aces, to put the game out of reach at 22-10.

“I was thinking that I had to get (my serves) in and get us going,” said Connelly. “I focused on where I wanted to serve it.”

A Connelly kill made it 24-12 and while Yarmouth refused to quit as ran off four straight points, eventually, Cape Elizabeth closed it out, 25-17, after a service fault.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” Senecal said. “They demonstrated a lot of character out there for young kids coming back. They made some people take notice.”

The Capers never trailed in the fourth game either and despite a valiant effort, the Clippers could never quite catch up as Cape Elizabeth wrapped up the victory.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Capers got the first point, then added another and another. Yarmouth got back within 4-3, but a kill from Kilgore made it 7-4. The Clippers cut the deficit to 8-7, but a Connelly kill and a Manning ace made the score, 10-7. Yarmouth would tie the score at 11-11 on a kill from LeBlanc, but a service fault put Cape Elizabeth ahead for good. An ace from junior libero Tess Dolan made it 16-12 Capers and forced Senecal to call timeout. It helped, as kills from Murray and Bennett helped cut the deficit to 17-15, but Harvey and Connelly countered with kills and the hosts added two more points for a 21-15 lead.

Yarmouth would make it 21-19 behind kills from Lukis and LeBlanc, but with the game hanging in the balance, Cape Elizabeth went back to its bread-and-butter, as Dadmun set up Connelly for a kill. The Capers got the next two points as well and after the Clippers got two back, a Connelly kill served as a fitting punctuation mark and Cape Elizabeth had the set, 25-21, and the match, 3-1.

“(Yarmouth’s) good,” Boeckel said. “I just told Jim I’m going to retire before those freshmen are seniors. They’re smart at a young age. I’m missing one of my big defensive players, Julia Torre, and Megan has bronchitis, so we’re dragging a smidge. Megan and Maggie are keeping us in points so much. I’m lucky I have good players to serve and play defense. I’ve never carried 18 on my roster, but I like that I have options.”

Connelly finished with a match-high 20 kills and she added 13 service points, including three aces.

“We rely on heavily on Megan,” Dadmun said. “She’s been awesome. We really count on her to perform outside.”

Dadmun stuffed the stat sheet as well, producing 33 assists, eight service points and six kills.

“Maggie puts up the most beautiful sets,” said Connelly.

Torre added 12 service points, including three aces, Manning had five service points, including four aces, Kilgore had five kills and Sarka four. Harvey had two kills and a block.

“Our middles are doing great,” said Dadmun. “Madison is doing awesome. Brooke and I really connected. The passes are getting there.”

Yarmouth was led by Lukis, who had 11 kills, four blocks and three service points. Moran had 16 assists and six service points, including four aces. LeBlanc had four kills and four service points, Murray had four blocks and four kills and Bennett finished with nine service points and six kills.

“We knew it would be tough,” Senecal said. “Cape’s a strong team. We thought if we stayed in our system and played our game, we’d be fine, but they didn’t let us do that. Their setter is really strong and got us off-balance and thinking a little bit. They made all their serves. I think that was probably the biggest different in a close match. They got the serves in and we didn’t pass effectively to do what we needed to do. They do different things, things we haven’t seen that much of. Credit to them. We knew they wouldn’t let the ball hit the floor. They have all the holes filled. We don’t yet. We look forward to the chance to play them again.”

More challenges

Yarmouth looks to bounce back Tuesday at Cony. The Clippers return home Thursday of next week to battle Falmouth, another former Class A power now relegated to Class B.

“Cony has been winning, then we host Falmouth and that’ll be a tough one, but we’ll be ready for it,” Senecal said.

Cape Elizabeth can’t rest on its laurels, as it goes to Falmouth Tuesday and hosts Greely Thursday of next week.

“Working hard in practice will be our big key,” Connelly said.

“I would love to go all the way this year,” Dadmun said. “I think we can do it if we work together and trust each other. We have to play as a team. I’m excited.”

“We don’t look like we’ll crush the ball, but last year left a bad taste in our mouths and the girls want to prove we’re a team to beat,” Boeckel added. “Things are going well, but as a coach, I still want more. We need to improve our blocking. That’s our biggest thing. We didn’t serve-receive very well tonight. Little things. We’ll have tough matches with Falmouth and Greely, but I like our schedule.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Jaya McClure hits the ball as Yarmouth Dominique Moran looks on.

Yarmouth junior Ceanne Lyon sets the ball.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Megan Connelly goes up for a kill as Yarmouth freshman Evelyn Lukis rises to meet her shot at the net.

Yarmouth freshman Kaitlyn Bennett shows her serving form.

Yarmouth freshman Maggie Murray rises to block the shot of Cape Elizabeth sophomore Megan Connelly.

Previous Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth results

2016
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2015
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 1
Class A quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 0

2013
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 1

2012
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

2011
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

2010
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2009
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

2008
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001.
Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net.
I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.