Falmouth sophomore Hillary Bouchard, left, sophomore Annika Hester, junior Rose Riversmith and sophomore Katie Phillips celebrate a point during the Yachtsmen’s 3-1 win over Yarmouth Thursday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
FALMOUTH—The scoreboard went out, but Falmouth’s volleyball team was able to flip the switch nonetheless Thursday evening.
And when the Yachtsmen come to life and are engaged and playing up to their ability, they’re an impressive force to witness.
And they’re something no opponent wants to contend with.
The Yarmouth Clippers were on the wrong end of the Yachtsmen’s eruption Thursday evening in a playoff rematch and had no answer for a flurry of Falmouth pinpoint serves and well-placed kills.
Yarmouth got out to a fast start, racing to a 20-12 first set lead before holding on for a 25-22 victory.
The Yachtsmen’s rally in game one gave them momentum and they were about to put on a show.
Falmouth, coming off its first loss, a 3-0 setback at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday night, never trailed in the second set and beyond the superb serving of senior Summer Spiegel and sophomore Katie Phillips and the unstoppable power of sophomore hitter Annika Hester, posted a 25-8 win.
The third game was nearly identical, as the Yachtsmen scored the first five points and never looked back en route to a 25-7 win, thanks to nine Phillips service points and Hester’s six service points and four kills.
When Falmouth went up by a 9-1 score in the fourth set, another easy victory appeared imminent, but Yarmouth crept back and got as close as 22-18 before the Yachtsmen scored the final three points, capped by an ace from sophomore Hillary Bouchard to prevail, 25-18, and take the match, 3-1.
Falmouth bounced back from its lone loss of the season, improved to 5-1 and in the process, dropped the Clippers to 5-2.
“We wanted to come out hard tonight after our loss and we finally woke up and played really well,” Phillips said. “Last game gave us energy for this game.”
Entering play Thursday, Falmouth and Yarmouth had handled all of their foes so far this fall, with one exception.
The Yachtsmen, under new coach Larry Nichols, 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. Tuesday, Falmouth dropped a straight set decision at Cape Elizabeth in a Class B state rematch, but it was the third game that had everyone buzzing, a marathon 33-31 Capers’ victory.
The Clippers, meanwhile, won in straight sets at York, Brunswick and South Portland, downed visiting Greely in four games, then lost a close three-set home match to Cape Elizabeth. Tuesday, Yarmouth blanked visiting Cony.
Last year, the Clippers beat the visiting Yachtsmen in three games in the regular season, then won the first two sets of the teams’ Class B state semifinal, but Falmouth roared back to take the next three games to get to the state final.
That gave the Yachtsmen a 10-3 all-time lead in the series, which dates to 2007 (see sidebar, below).
Thursday, Falmouth started slowly, then put it all together.
The Yachtsmen led just once in the first set, 2-1, but a kill from sophomore Kaitlyn Bennett, followed by a block from sophomore Evelyn Lukis, put the Clippers on top. After Falmouth battled back to tie the score, 6-6 and 8-8, a service fault gave Yarmouth the lead for good. The Clippers then gradually opened it up, going ahead, 16-11, on a kill from senior Marie LeBlanc, then making it 20-12 before a block by Yachtsmen senior Kiera O’Brien sparked a rally.
Falmouth got a kill from Hester and a block from Phillips, but the next two points, punctuated by a LeBlanc kill, put Yarmouth on top, 22-15. Consecutive Hester kills and an ace from junior Holly Barney cut the Yachtsmen’s deficit to four, but Barney missed on her next serve.
Undaunted, Falmouth kept pressing, getting a kill from Hester, an ace from Bouchard, a Yarmouth miss and a Hester kill to pull within 23-22, but the Clippers held on, as on a long point, Bennett finished with a kill and the Yachtsmen hit the ball out on the next point, giving Yarmouth a 25-22 set victory and a 1-0 match lead.
“We started off relaxed and took it to them,” Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal said. “We were playing great. They were a little tight, but they loosened up in a hurry.”
Senior Dominique Moran had seven assists in that game, while Lukis had four service points, two kills and two blocks, helping overcome Hester’s seven kills.
That first set would prove to be the Clippers’ highwater mark.
Hester set the tone for a very quick (16 minutes) second game with a resounding kill. A block by junior Rose Riversmith opened up a 3-0 lead and after Yarmouth drew within 5-3, Falmouth got the next point, before Spiegel went to the service line and got three more points, as O’Brien and Phillips had blocks for a 9-3 lead. The Clippers tried to hang tough, pulling within 10-6, but Phillips had a kill and Barney served up the next six points, including an ace, to open it up to 17-6. With the score 19-8, Riversmith had a kill, Bouchard produced a kill and after two more Yachtsmen points, Riversmith had successive blocks to end it, 25-8, evening the match.
In the second game, Phillips had eight service points, Barney seven and Spiegel six, Hester added six kills and Riversmith registered four blocks.
Prior to the start of the third set, power went out in the area and the scoreboard went dark, but the lights remained on in the high school and after a few minutes, a manual scoreboard was located and the match resumed.
And nothing changed, as just 14 minutes were needed for the hosts to wrap up the third game.
Again, Falmouth started quickly, going up, 5-0, as Phillips served consecutive aces. A block by Lukis got Yarmouth on the board, but Spiegel had a kill and Hester had three kills to help spell a 12-1 lead. The Clippers got back within 14-5, but Hester had one kill with her right hand, another with her left and soon the advantage was 19-6. Yarmouth got a point back, but Hester had a kill, Phillips served an ace, the Yachtsmen won another point and a Riversmith block and Phillips ace closed out a 25-7 game three win, giving Falmouth a 2-1 lead in the match.
“Coach always tell us that no matter what, the ball has to go over and in and we focused really hard on getting our serves in,” Phillips said. “When we get serves in, we know we’ll score points.”
“The serve comes over and you make a bad pass, now you have no offense,” Senecal said. “You can’t run anything you want to run. They served great. They drilled their serves and kept us off-balance.”
Phillips dazzled in the third set, producing nine service points, including four aces, as well as posting four assists. Hester had six service points, including four aces, and added four kills.
The fourth game began in familiar fashion, as Hester had a kill, Riversmith added a block and the Yachtsmen scored another point for a 3-0 lead. After the Clippers got on the board, the next six points went to Falmouth, as Hester served up four more aces. The Yachtsmen made it 16-7, thanks to a Hester kill, a Bouchard ace and a Phillips kill, but Yarmouth stared to crawl back.
Consecutive Lukis kills and an ace from Bennett forced Nichols to call timeout and Hester countered with a kill and an ace to make it 18-10. Falmouth eventually went up by nine, 21-12, but LeBlanc had a kill, the Clippers got the next point, Bennett had consecutive kills and the next point went the visitors’ way as well, allowing Yarmouth to cut the deficit to 21-17.
After a long point went the Yachtsmen’s way, sophomore Maggie Murray had a kill for the Clippers, but that’s the final point they would produce. After a service fault, Bouchard served up an ace and Bouchard did it once more for good measure as Falmouth took the fourth set, 25-18, and won the match, 3-1.
“We knew we were so close to winning and we really wanted it,” Phillips said. “We gave 100 percent to finish.”
“We didn’t have offense early, but fortunately, we got more mindful of attacking and our coverage got better and it has to against them,” Nichols said. “Against a program like Yarmouth, it’s just a matter of time (until they come back). You hope you handle the run. Holes in our defense were magnified against Cape. We focused on that and not making unforced errors.”
Hester continued to stuff the stat sheet, producing 22 kills and 13 service points, including nine aces.
Phillips had 19 service points and 14 assists.
Spiegel finished with 14 assists and seven service points.
Barney finished with 11 service points.
Bouchard contributed nine service points, including six aces.
Riversmith had six blocks, while O’Brien had five.
Yarmouth was led by Moran, who had 20 assists.
Bennett added nine kills.
Lukis had six kills and five blocks.
LeBlanc finished with six service points and five kills.
“We hoped we’d play well and we did initially,” Senecal said. “I’d love to have given Falmouth a better fight. We want to be at their level, but we weren’t tonight. They were tough. They took us out of our system. The team that stayed aggressive was the team that won the set. Falmouth was aggressive after the first set. In volleyball, it snowballs. The girls were fighting to not be discouraged. They realized they were probably going to get beat, but they stayed positive and we can build on that.”
Yarmouth hopes to bounce back Tuesday when it hosts North Yarmouth Academy. The Clippers then go to Cheverus Thursday of next week.
“I don’t think this hurts us that much from a standings standpoint, but if everything stays where it is right now, we’re probably a second-place team,” Senecal said. “We have to make some changes to be where we want to be. We’ll erase the slate and start over and see what we can do.”
Falmouth is back in action Tuesday at Bonny Eagle, then hosts Biddeford in a key tilt Thursday of next week.
“We’re meshing really well,” Phillips said. “We all get along and communicate really well. Every day, we have to bring the same energy. We have to keep doing what we did tonight.”
“Most players are in new positions and they need to keep working,” Nichols said. “Once they get confidence, they’ll attack in a more intelligent and aggressive way. We’re different every week. It’s nice to see our improvement. I’m hoping we continue to get better.”
Falmouth junior Rose Riversmith sets the ball.
Falmouth sophomore Katie Phillips tries to block the shot of Yarmouth sophomore Evelyn Lukis.
Falmouth senior Kiera O’Brien and Yarmouth sophomore Kaitlyn Bennett meet at the net.
Yarmouth senior Marie LeBlanc goes up for a kill as Falmouth senior Summer Spiegel, left, and junior Rose Riversmith defend.
Yarmouth sophomore Avery Dube receives the ball.
Yarmouth senior Ceanne Lyon attempts a kill as Falmouth senior Alex Burton defends.
Falmouth sophomore Annika Hester blocks the shot of Yarmouth sophomore Margaret McNeil.
Falmouth reacts to Hester’s block.
@ Yarmouth 3 Falmouth 0
Class B semifinal
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1
West Region quarterfinals
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 3 Falmouth 1