Cape volleyball gets the better of Falmouth again

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Cape Elizabeth senior Megan Connelly exults after a key point in the Capers’ 3-0 win over Falmouth in Tuesday evening’s showdown of unbeaten teams.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team never gives up on a point and for the second year in a row, never loses a match.

Tuesday evening, the Capers hosted Falmouth in a battle of unbeatens/rematch of last year’s Class B state final and while many names and faces have changed, the result was the same.

A Cape Elizabeth victory, thanks to some clutch play when it mattered most.

The Capers had no trouble taking the first set, breaking away from a 10-10 tie to win, 25-14, behind the serving of sophomore Julia Torre and several uncharacteristic Yachtsmen errors.

Cape Elizabeth trailed most of the second game and didn’t lead until the score was 20-19 en route to a 25-21 victory, which was capped by a kill from junior Jaya McClure.

The Capers then threatened to quickly end the match in the third set, taking a lead of 16-7, but Falmouth battled back to set the stage for a marathon game.

The Yachtsmen managed to go ahead, 24-23, on a kill from sophomore standout Annika Hester, but couldn’t close out the set. 

In fact, Falmouth would have six set points, but never extended the match and after tying things up, 31-31, on a kill from senior Jessie Robicheaw, Cape Elizabeth got a kill from senior Megan Connelly, then took the set when the Yachtsmen hit the ball out of bounds, giving the Capers a 33-31 win in game three and a 3-0 match victory.

“We talk in practice a lot about how we’re not the biggest team, or the heaviest-hitting team, but we work on making each other better in practice by not giving each other easy points,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Sarah Boeckel. “If the other teams wins a point, they’ll have to do something special to win the point. That’s our philosophy.”

Repeat not revenge

A year ago, Cape Elizabeth won every match en route to the Class B state title and the Capers downed Falmouth twice along the way. After a hard-fought 3-1 win at the Yachtsmen in the regular season, Cape Elizabeth hosted the state final and won three close sets for the program’s second championship in four seasons.

This fall, both squads had passed every test to date.

The Capers swept host Kennebunk, visiting Gardiner and Brunswick, host Biddeford and Friday, won its three close sets (25-22, 26-24, 25-17) at Yarmouth.

Falmouth, which has moved up to Class A this season, started with 3-0 home wins over Greely and Cony, beat host South Portland in three sets and last Thursday, held off visiting Scarborough, the defending Class A champion, in four games (25-10, 25-20, 17-25, 25-18).

Heading into play Tuesday, Falmouth held a 9-5 all-time edge (see sidebar, below, for previous results).

The Yachtsmen were seeking a measure of revenge for the state match loss, but Cape Elizabeth did enough to extend its match win streak to 23.

Falmouth got four of the match’s first five points, thanks in part to a kill from Hester and a block from junior Rose Riversmith, but the Capers battled back to make it 5-5. The teams were tied again at 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10 before a Robicheaw kill put Cape Elizabeth on top to stay. Consecutive aces from sophomore Aerin Manning made it 14-10 Capers. Torre then opened it up even more with six straight service points, including a pair of aces. Hester got a point back with a kill, but the Yachtsmen service faulted, then hit consecutive balls out of bounds to make it 24-12. A Cape Elizabeth fault and a kill from sophomore Katie Phillips gave Falmouth momentary hope, but one more Falmouth hit out of bounds gave the Capers the first set, 25-14.

“Tonight was uncharacteristic of what we’ve done so far with the ball,” said Yachtsmen first-year coach Larry Nichols. “We were a little too loose with it and we paid the price against a team like Cape.” 

Winning the second game would prove much tougher, but Cape Elizabeth closed that one out as well.

Again the Yachtsmen started fast, as kills from Hester, Riversmith and senior Alex Burton helped open up a 6-2 lead. The Capers won the next three points, capped by a Connelly kill, but Falmouth went up, 11-6, after an ace from junior Holly Barney. Back roared Cape Elizabeth with five straight points, capped by a kill from senior Bridget Heggie. The Yachtsmen then retook the lead, 14-11, behind an ace from sophomore Hillary Bouchard, then went up, 16-12, on a Hester kill, but senior Brooke Harvey capped a Capers’ run to again get within a point. The hosts drew even at 18-18 and 19-19, then went on top for good after winning a long point. Heggie added a kill, Falmouth couldn’t return the ball, Heggie had a kill and after Phillips made it 23-20 with a kill, a Yachtsmen fault put Cape Elizabeth within one of taking a commanding lead in the match. The Capers couldn’t get the ball over the net on the next point, but McClure ended it with a kill, giving Cape Elizabeth a 25-21 win and a 2-0 match lead.

The Capers went up by an 8-2 score early in the third set, highlighted by a pair of Torre aces and a Connelly ace. Falmouth made it 10-7 on a Phillips kill, but Connelly served up four aces to stretch the lead to 16-7. The Yachtsmen, thanks to a pair of blocks from senior Kiera O’Brien, got the next five points, but a kill from junior Corina Page made it 19-14. Falmouth kept creeping closer and when Burton produced a kill, the game was tied, 22-22. 

The fun was just beginning.

The Yachtsmen gave a point back with a fault, but after Cape Elizabeth couldn’t return the ball and Hester produced a kill, Falmouth was within a point of extending the match.

It didn’t happen, as Connelly had a kill. Heggie added a kill to put the Capers within a point of match victory, but a long point ended with Cape Elizabeth hitting the ball out and when Hester followed with a kill, Falmouth was up, 26-25, and on the brink again.

Again, it wasn’t to be, as the Yachtsmen served the ball out.

The Capers returned the favor, hitting the ball out, but again, Falmouth couldn’t finish, as a kill from senior Kalie Manning tied it, 27-27.

When Hester followed with a kill, the Yachtsmen had their fourth set point, but for the fourth time, they were disappointed, as Harvey countered with a kill to tie it again.

Robicheaw then delivered a kill and Cape Elizabeth was a point away, but a service fault allowed Falmouth to tie it and Riversmith followed with a block and a 30-29 lead.

Set point number five didn’t do the trick either, as Robicheaw had a kill.

The Capers then served the ball out, giving the Yachtsmen a 31-30 advantage and a sixth chance to end it.

But they couldn’t, as Robicheaw again had a clutch kill.

When Connelly followed with a soft kill, Cape Elizabeth had match point for the third time and the third time proved to be the charm.

The Capers served the ball over and after a volley, Falmouth couldn’t return the ball inbounds and after a marathon half-hour game, Cape Elizabeth had a 33-31 win and took the match, 3-0.

“We knew they had great hitters, but we played as a team and adjusted to what they do on offense,” Connelly said. “We didn’t let one hit let us down mentally. We take pride in being a well-rounded and versatile team. We were fired up. We knew it would be emotional for both teams and we tried to stay calm, cool and collected.”

“We knew they’d bring more after the first set,” Boeckel said. “We knew they’d pass better, then we got a little shaky, but we find a way to win. We’re not going to give you a game. You have to earn it.” 

The Capers got 11 service points, including four aces, and six kills from Connelly, who started slowly, but finished strong.

“I don’t think that was Megan’s best match, but the good thing is we can still come up against a very good team and win,” Boeckel said. “She’ll keep swinging and that’s good.”

Torre had 13 service points, including four aces, Kalie Manning added 10 service points and Aerin Manning seven.

Page had 18 assists.

Robicheaw contributed seven kills, including some big ones late. Harvey had five kills, as did Heggie.

“I’m so lucky to have my bench,” said Boeckel. “I can put in kids to pass, serve and swing when needed. It’s a blessing to carry 18 players on my roster.  This was huge for us to know we can match up with big hitters and big blockers.”

Falmouth was led by Phillips’ 10 assists, five service points, four kills and three blocks, Hester’s 12 kills, senior Summer Spiegel’s nine assists and five service points and Riversmith’s eight blocks and seven service points.

Barney produced eight service points.

O’Brien had five blocks and Burton added four kills.

“I was proud of the way we came back in the third set because they handled us the first two sets,” said Nichols. “We didn’t have any offense going in the first two sets, then we got it going and they adjusted. They’re so good. I don’t know where their weakness is. Their libero (senior Tess Dolan) is the best in the state. They took advantage of everything and we didn’t. They were aggressive offensively and their defense is great.”

No rest for the weary

Falmouth hopes to bounce back Thursday, but it won’t be easy as the Yachtsmen host talented Yarmouth. A trip to Bonny Eagle looms next Tuesday.

“This will be over tomorrow when we go to practice,” Nichols said. “Cape points out your weaknesses. Now we have to turn the page.”

Cape Elizabeth welcomes Greely Thursday, then York pays a visit Tuesday of next week.

“We love our undefeated record, but we know it’s not what matters,” Connelly said. “We still have big matches to go.”

“We have to get more consistent from the first point to the last point,” Boeckel said. “We can get on our heels a little bit. Our biggest goal is to make the other team play ‘one more’ and we’re not doing that as much as we could.”

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

Cape Elizabeth junior Corina Page sets the ball.

Cape Elizabeth senior Megan Connelly goes up for a kill over Falmouth senior Kiera O’Brien.

Falmouth sophomore Katie Phillips and Cape Elizabeth senior Bridget Heggie meet at the net.

Falmouth senior Alex Burton, left, and junior Gretchen Barney prepare to receive the ball.

Falmouth senior Summer Spiegel, left, and junior Rose Riversmith go up for a block.

Falmouth sophomore Annika Hester pounds the ball over the outstretched hands of Cape Elizabeth seniors Brooke Harvey (12) and Jessie Robicheaw.

Previous Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth results

2017
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Falmouth 1
Class B state match
Cape Elizabeth 3 Falmouth 0

2016
@ Falmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

2015
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Falmouth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Falmouth 0

2014
@ Falmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Class A state match
Cape Elizabeth 3 Falmouth 2

2012
Falmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2011
Falmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2010
Falmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2009
@ Falmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

2008
@ Falmouth 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.