Cape volleyball sweeps Kennebunk in first playoff test

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Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team celebrates a point during the Capers’ 3-0 win over Kennebunk in Monday’s Class B state quarterfinal.

Cape Elizabeth junior Corina Page serves up an ace.

CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s top-ranked volleyball team had one simple mission when it hosted No. 8 Kennebunk in a Class B state quarterfinal Monday evening.

Take care of business and do so as quickly and easily as possible.

Thanks to strong serving and solid contributions from myriad sources, the Capers did just that and are now two big steps away from a repeat state championship.

Cape Elizabeth never trailed in the first set, as junior Corina Page had nine service points and nine assists to help the Capers roll to a 25-11 victory.

The Rams scored the first point of the second game, but that’s as good as it got, as again, Cape Elizabeth took control, getting eight assists and four service points from Page, eight service points from junior Jaya McClure and four kills from senior Bridget Heggie to win, 25-9.

Kennebunk refused to go quietly in the third set, getting as close 19-17 behind the serving of senior captain Leah Boldduc, but senior Megan Connelly came up big at the net and the service line, producing an ace to end it, 25-19, bringing the curtain down on the Capers’ 3-0 victory.

Cape Elizabeth improved to 14-1, ended the Rams’ season at 6-9 and advanced to host No. 4 York (10-5) in the Class B state semifinals Wednesday at 6 p.m.

“I can’t complain about a 3-0 win in the playoffs,” said Capers coach Sarah Boeckel. “We’ve been off for a week, so it felt good to get out here and play a match again.” 

Gold ball goal

While Cape Elizabeth entered the 2018 season with some question marks, the Capers did quite nicely in their title defense/repeat bid, stumbling just once in 14 regular season matches (see sidebar, below, for previous stories). Cape Elizabeth won 11 straight matches in three-sets (including victories over Biddeford, Yarmouth, Falmouth and Scarborough) before its two-year, 28-match streak came to a close Oct. 4 in four-sets at Falmouth.

“That loss put us in a rut for a little bit, but I think it was good for us because it made us realize that we’re not invincible,” Page said.

A 3-1 home victory over Windham and a straight-set win at Cony capped the 13-1 regular season, as the Capers wound up ranked first in Class B.

Kennebunk went 6-8 in the regular season and earned the eighth and final playoff spot in Class B.

In the regular season opener, Aug. 31 in Kennebunk, Cape Elizabeth won in three sets in the teams’ lone meeting this year.

The squads also squared off in last year’s quarterfinals with the Capers taking their first step to a title in straight-sets (25-12, 25-14, 25-8).

This match was played Monday instead of Saturday because Boeckel spent the weekend being inducted into the Stony Brook University Athletics Hall of Fame.

The delay didn’t affect Cape Elizabeth, which needed only an hour to dispatch the Rams as it moved one step closer to another title.

The Capers won the first point, then Page served an ace and Heggie and McClure each had kills for a quick 4-0 lead. A Connelly kill and a McClure ace made it 6-1 and after Kennebunk pulled within 7-6 behind a kill and three straight aces from senior Kenzie Esquivel, Cape Elizabeth got seven of the next eight points to open it up, 15-8, highlighted by kills from senior Brooke Harvey and Heggie. After the Rams got a point back, the next six points went to the Capers, as Heggie had a kill and a block, McClure softly killed the ball and Page served up an ace. Out of a timeout, Kennebunk got as close as 21-11 on an ace from Boldduc, but Heggie had a kill, the Rams hit the ball into the net, Connelly had a kill and Heggie finished the 25-11 first set with another kill.

Page set the tone with nine service points and nine assists.

Page has replaced standout Maggie Dadmun this season and has become a key contributor.

“There are big expectations (replacing Maggie), but everyone has been supportive,” Page said. “I learned from her to always work hard. She was always really humble and helpful to me.”

Kennebunk got the first point of the second game, but a McClure kill, two Harvey kills and two aces from Page made it 5-1.

“We knew we just had to keep the ball in play,” Page said. “No one did anything fancy. We just wanted to be consistent.”

After the Rams got a point back, the next nine went to the Capers, as Connelly had three kills and McClure had a pair of aces during an eight-point service run. Sophomore Julia Torre got in on the serving fun with two aces and a Heggie kill made the score 19-3. A pair of aces from senior Amelia Nelson pulled Kennebunk within 20-9, but a service fault, a pair of failed returns by the Rams and two Heggie kills closed it out, 25-9.

Heggie had four kills in the second game, while Page had eight assists, McClure eight service points and Connelly four service points and three kills.

Boeckel was able to play some of her reserves in the third set and Kennebunk made things interesting.

Page started the final game with an ace and the Capers got the next point as well, but the next four went to the Rams, highlighted by a pair of aces from Boldduc. Trailing, 7-6, Cape Elizabeth went on top to stay on a kill from senior Erin Foley. With the score 11-10, McClure had a kill, senior Tess Dolan served an ace, Heggie had a kill, Dolan served another ace and McClure had a kill to make it 16-10. Kennebunk then rallied within 18-16 after an ace from senior Francesca Gargano, but the Capers answered with a kill from Connelly. After a Nelson kill again made it a two-point contest, the Rams had a service fault, senior Ellie Hilse had an ace and Connelly’s kill stretched the lead to 22-17. After Kennebunk cut the deficit to three, Foley had a kill, McClure added another to set up match point and Connelly finished things off with an ace for a 25-19 victory and a 3-0 match triumph.

“We just wanted to maintain our level of play and just get it done quickly,” Page said. “Sometimes we get a little complacent when it’s a fairly easy match, but we realized we needed to get it done and we did.”

“I think we did a nice job, but we got a little complacent and slow and you can’t do that in the playoffs,” said Boeckel. “Against other teams, it can turn momentum and lead to runs. Our serving is usually a strong suit. Our serve-receive was a little lackluster tonight. We need to come in and move a heck of a lot faster. We did too much moving with the ball instead of beating the ball to the spot. As matches go on, if we’re making mistakes, it will be a problem.”

Page led the way with 20 assists and 15 service points.

“Tonight, I was primarily setting in the middle because we had a lot of three-ball passes,” Page said. “I usually spread it out more. I was just taking advantage of the good passes tonight.”

Hilse impressed off the bench with eight assists in limited action.

“My setters work their butts off because I’m super-tough on my setters,” said Boeckel, who was a setter herself. “We were really blessed to have Maggie for four years. It’s been an adjustment for the setters and hitters, but as time’s gone on, they’re feeling more and more comfortable and confident.”

Connelly had 10 service points and nine kills.

McClure added 11 service points and Heggie finished with nine kills.

Kennebunk was paced by Boldduc’s six service points. Nelson added four service points and Irish Dils had five assists.

No letdown

Cape Elizabeth and York met once this season, a 3-0 Capers’ home victory Sept. 25. The teams have no playoff history.

Presuming Cape Elizabeth takes care of business and, as expected, No. 2 Yarmouth beats third-ranked Brewer Wednesday, Friday’s state final could be something special.

Not that the Capers are thinking that far ahead.

“We need to be ready for York to be really improved,” Page said. “We won’t take them for granted. We want to win (states) again very badly.”

“We hadn’t even talked about Wednesday,” Boeckel said. “We came in today focusing on Kennebunk. We’ll talk about York tomorrow. No matter your seed, you can’t look ahead.” 

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

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2017 Class B quarterfinals
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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.