Falmouth closes volleyball season by blanking Greely

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FALMOUTH—Even the Yachtsmen weren’t expecting it to be quite this easy.

After pulling out a hard-fought 3-2 road victory over the Greely Rangers on Tuesday, the Falmouth volleyball team hosted those same seven-time defending state champs from Cumberland on Thursday night.

This time, it wasn’t close.

Falmouth won in three games, 25-20, 25-18 and 25-9. After tying the score at 4-4 in the first game, the Yachtsmen didn’t trail again the rest of the night, closing their regular season with an emphatic victory on Senior Night.

“It was nice,” said Falmouth senior Kate Sparks, who led her team eight kills and three blocks. “We weren’t expecting that after taking them in five on Tuesday. We were expecting them to bring it. They did. They played really well. We just happened to get the ups on them, and played hard.”

“I thought the game would be closer, but we’ve gotten into our rhythm now,” said Falmouth coach Gary Powers. “We had some injuries that we had to deal with earlier in the season. Now everyone’s back and healthy and things are going well.”

As of Thursday night, the Yachtsmen (12-2) held the No. 2 spot in the Heal Point Standings, with a narrow lead over No. 3 Mount Desert Island. The Trojans still have a match against Calais scheduled for Friday, so they could vault the Yachtsmen and snatch the first-round bye in the six-team Class A state tournament.

Greely (8-5) also has a match Friday at Gorham. Currently in the No. 4 spot, the Rangers are assured of a playoff berth, but could potentially drop a spot if No. 5 Scarborough upsets No. 1 Biddeford on Friday.

While the playoff picture isn’t yet in focus, Falmouth, which fell to Greely in last year’s state championship after splitting with the Rangers in the 2009 regular season, has already cranked the intensity to postseason levels.

“Now we’re pumped,” Sparks said. “We know we can play at that level. Hopefully we’ll keep it up.”

In the first game, Falmouth got on the board first, but Greely soon led 4-3. That would be the last lead the Rangers would have, as Falmouth led games two and three from wire to wire.

Falmouth opened up a 14-7 lead in Game 1, but Greely closed the gap to 17-15. The Yachtsmen then rattled off five straight points to force a Rangers’ timeout. A 5-1 run by the Rangers got them back in it at 23-20, but Falmouth closed the door by scoring the final two points.

“They came to play,” said Greely coach Kelvin Hasch. “We’ve been struggling to try to jell, to play as a team. We just haven’t found it yet. Falmouth played as a team. They played together. They ran down everything. That was the difference.”

In Game 2, junior Jenna Serunian’s three aces helped Falmouth open up a 10-2 lead. Back-to-back aces from Sparks made it 14-4. After a Greely point, Falmouth senior Jackie Keroack’s consecutive kills triggered another timeout for the Rangers as they faced a 16-5 deficit. Greely senior Sara Warnock made it 21-13 after the second of her consecutive aces, but the Rangers could get no closer than six the rest of the way.

The final game was all Falmouth. Serunian made it 6-1 with another ace, and the Yachtsmen led 17-7 when Greely called a timeout. The teams traded points after the timeout, then Falmouth scored six straight, keyed by a trio of aces from senior Alana Becker. Senior Laura Fay’s kill put Falmouth on the verge of victory with a 24-8 lead, but a long volley that culminated in a kill by Warnock delayed the celebration, if only for a few seconds, as the next point and an impressive win belonged to Falmouth.

“This is huge,” Powers said. “We knew we could do this, but we had some tough games. This really sets the stage for us. We’re pleased to end the season on this note and head into the tournament.”

Falmouth’s veterans are itching to return to the state championship after having fallen just short of the ultimate prize a year ago.

“This year, we know what it feels like to get there,” Sparks said. “We liked how it felt, so we want to try to get there again.”

The Biddeford team was in attendance on Thursday, and their presence didn’t go unnoticed by the Yachtsmen, who split with the 12-1 Tigers during the season, winning 3-1 at home and falling 3-2 at Biddeford.

“Biddeford is playing great,” Sparks said. “They came out strong this year and it threw us all off guard, but they’re doing awesome. We’d like to see them again.”

Greely, meanwhile, is looking to find some consistency. The young Rangers have had their ups and downs this season. But with their history and tradition, it’s too early to write them off just yet.

“If we continue playing the way we are, we’ll have an early exit, and either Biddeford or Falmouth will be around at the end,” Hasch said. “But you never know. We’ve had some bursts where we’ve played well and we’ve had some where we haven’t played well. I’m not sure what to expect every night.”

Powers said the league has finally risen up to Greely’s level. If the Rangers finally relinquish the crown, it will be because someone took it from them.

“A lot more of the teams are getting stronger, so they’re still a great club, but so is Biddeford, Scarborough, Yarmouth, Gorham, everybody’s stepping up,” Powers said. “It’s a whole new league. The days of three-and-done seem to be gone by the wayside.”

Junior Maggie Bradley led Greely with 10 kills, while Warnock added six. Sophomore Danielle Cimino had 12 assists for the Rangers.

Falmouth senior Kate Sparks goes up high to place a shot over the net as Greely junior Emily Sampson (2) and senior Sara Warnock (5) attempt to block it.

Greely junior Ellie Weickert rises above the net for a shot.

Falmouth senior Laura Fay goes above the net for a kill.

Greely junior Ellie Weickert (8) and Falmouth senior Jackie Keroack converge on the ball above the net.

Falmouth volleyball players celebrate an ace during the first game of Thursday night’s 3-0 home win over Greely.

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Members of the Falmouth volleyball team cheer after the Yachtsmen score the final point in Thursday’s 3-0 win over Greely.

More photos below.