Greely frustrates Falmouth again to stay perfect

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Greely’s volleyball team celebrates during Thursday’s 3-0 win at Falmouth. The Rangers remained undefeated on the year.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

FALMOUTH—Greely’s volleyball team has been pretty close to perfect this fall, as the Rangers haven’t dropped a set or a match and as we near the midway point of the 2016 season, the state’s most accomplished program appears to once again be the favorite.

Thursday afternoon, Greely traveled to rival Falmouth for a matinee where the Yachtsmen were hoping to avenge their painful playoff loss from last autumn, but instead, the Rangers continued to do what they do best.

Win the key points thanks to some terrific team and individual play.

A long service run from sophomore Morgan Selby hoped Greely open up the first game and the passing and power game of senior standout Kayley Cimino led the Rangers to a 25-16 victory.

In the second set, Falmouth made it much more difficult and the Yachtsmen even led, 17-16, after a highlight reel block from senior Victoria Burton, but Greely ran off five straight points to seize control and a Cimino kill allowed the Rangers to prevail, 25-23.

Greely took a quick 3-0 lead in the third game, but again, Falmouth hung tough and led 23-22, but the Rangers got the final three points, capped by a Selby block, and their 25-23 win gave them the match in three games.

Greely improved to 5-0 this year, has won all 15 sets in which it’s participated and dropped the Yachtsmen to 3-2 in the process.

“We’re working pretty hard,” said longtime Rangers coach Kelvin Hasch, the state’s most accomplished coach, who won his 211th career match Thursday. “I’m looking for us to improve every day. I didn’t really know where we’d be this year, but I think we’ve really jelled early. The kids are close and they’re backing one another. They play in practice harder than this. It’s a good group of kids.” 

Playoff preview?

Falmouth has fielded a varsity team for a decade and it didn’t long for the Yachtsmen to become a top threat to Greely, which has been the state’s gold standard for the past 15 seasons.

Both teams are again aspiring powerhouses in 2016.

Greely, which lost to Scarborough in last year’s Class A state match, beat its first four foes (Scarborough, Cony, Biddeford and Brunswick) by 3-0 scores.

Falmouth opened with 3-0 wins over Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus and Gorham, then lost in three sets at Biddeford Tuesday.

The Yachtsmen entered the match still stinging from last year’s playoff ouster at Greely, in which they let a 2-0 lead slip away in a five-set loss.

The Rangers entered play Thursday holding a 15-7 all-time edge in the series and they again came out victorious.

Falmouth got the first two points of the first game, but after getting on the board, Greely gave the ball to Selby at the service line and she ran off six straight points to produce a 7-2 lead. The hosts crept back within a point thanks to successive aces from senior Madi Tait, but a Selby kill helped the Rangers go up 9-6. The Yachtsmen drew within one, 10-9, but that’s as close as they’d get, as Greely won five successive points, highlighted by a pair of kills from junior Sara Agren. A kill from Burton ended the run, but Greely got three more points, forcing Falmouth coach Molly Northway to call timeout.

The Yachtsmen were never able to make a run, however, due in large part to multiple service faults. The Rangers then won the set, 25-16, when Falmouth hit the ball into the net.

Selby had seven service points in the first game, while Cimino, as she does so well, did a little of everything, producing four kills, four assists, four service points and a block.

The hosts came much closer in the second game, but fell just short.

The teams were tied at 2-2, 3-3, 5-5, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12 and 16-16 before Falmouth appeared to get a lift when Burton blocked a Cimino kill attempt and sent it over the net for an improbable and inspirational point. Greely wasn’t remotely fazed, however and rattled off five straight points, highlighted by an Agren kill and two Cimino aces. A kill from Yachtsmen junior Alston Armstrong was countered by a kill from Selby. Falmouth crept back to 22-20, but two kills from senior Chapin put the Rangers a point from victory. The Yachtsmen refused to buckle, however, as they drew within one, but Cimino took a pass from Chapin and buried a shot over the net to end the game, 25-23.

When Chapin produced a couple kills to help build an early 3-0 lead, it appeared Greely would make quick work of Falmouth in the third game, but Tait had a kill, then served a pair of aces to tie it. Greely went back on top, 6-3, behind a Chapin ace and a kill from junior Jane Grandchamp, The Yachtsmen came back to make it 7-7, but Cimino had a kill and Selby produced a pair for a 10-7 lead. The next point was the most memorable of the night, as Cimino somehow came from nowhere to save the ball and at the other end, Tait had a memorable save of her own before Falmouth finally got the point. That helped the hosts eventually draw even at 13-13, forcing Hasch to call timeout.

Greely responded, winning three straight points, thanks to kills from Grandchamp and Cimino, but the Yachtsmen again rallied as a Tait kill helped forge a 16-16 tie. A Cimino block, Cimino kill and Agren kill gave the Rangers a 19-16 lead, but Falmouth rallied behind a block from junior Lydia Abbott, a kill from Burton and an ace from junior Danielle Casavant to take a 21-20 lead. The teams then traded points and did so again, making it 23-22 Yachtsmen, but the hosts couldn’t close it out. 

After a net violation tied it, Rangers junior libero Coco Petrone made a marvelous save, Cimino set the ball perfectly for Chapin and Chapin buried her shot to give Greely a 24-23 lead.

“Molly knows when to put the ball away,” Hasch said. “I tell her, ‘If you have the right set, put the ball on the floor.'”

Then, at 5:58 p.m., after a tense 82 minute match, Selby blocked a shot which Falmouth couldn’t return and Greely won the third game, 25-23, and the match, 3-0.

“We’re superstitious about not having lost a set,” Chapin said. “We use that to keep us focused. We focus on staying calm and remaining motivated.”

“Falmouth’s always a good team to play,” Cimino said. “Their defense is great, so there were a lot of rallies. That’s the closest match we’ve had all season. The new girls have stepped up a lot. The improvement since the first day of preseason has been amazing.”

“We relaxed at a couple places, but I called timeout and told them, ‘Play smart and turn it up’ and we were able to do it,'” Hasch added.

Selby, who is new to Greely this fall, was superb at the service line, scoring 13 points. She also had 15 assists and six kills.

“I just moved from Colorado where we had five teams at my previous high school and varsity was really intense,” Selby said. “I’m really enjoying playing for Greely. I’m happy I can be on this team. It’s fun playing with the seniors. They’re talkative and welcoming.”

“(Morgan’s) a great gift,” Hasch said. “Who could imagine having someone with that ability drop in on you? 

Cimino stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of a dozen service points, 12 assists, nine kills and three blocks.

It’s likely that Cimino covers more ground and does more things for her team than any other player in the state.

“We use Kayley where we need her most,” Hasch said. “Right now, we need her for setting and going after the ball. She gets every ball. I don’t know how she does it. I’d like to see her hit outside, but we have to have her at setter.”

Chapin finished with eight kills and six service points.

For Falmouth, senior Amanda Watson had 32 digs, senior Alaina Birkel had 13 assists, Tait finished with 23 digs, nine service points, including four aces, and five kills and Casavant had 17 digs and eight service points.

“It was definitely a better effort overall (than Biddeford),” Northway said. “We tried to get every ball up and we did a much better job of that, but we couldn’t get any serious hits. Our defense is there. Right now, it’s purely offense. We need to finish. We’re getting hits in, just no kills. Greely knows how to win. Our girls have confidence, but it’s more the execution piece. They’re not afraid.”

Room to improve

Falmouth will seek to right its ship next week when it goes to first-year varsity program Brunswick Tuesday and welcomes Thornton Academy Thursday. The Yachtsmen still have key matches remaining at defending Class A champion Scarborough and Yarmouth.

“We need some wins for Heal Points,” Northway said. “We have a lot of hard work to do.”

Greely has no interest in celebrating September success. The Rangers haven’t won a championship in four years and are bound and determine to finish what last year’s team started.

Greely is home with Windham Tuesday and goes to Cape Elizabeth Thursday. The Rangers then host Yarmouth Sept. 27 in what could be their final challenging match of the regular season.

“It’s still early in the season and we have a lot to work on for sure,” Chapin said. “We’ve done well so far, but passing and serve receive are some of the things we need to work on.”

“We want to win it as seniors,” Cimino said. “We talk about last year and getting revenge from last year a lot.”

“We’ll take it one match at a time and do the best we can,” Hasch added.

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

Greely junior Coco Petrone serves the ball.

Greely junior Sara Agren is met at the net by Falmouth junior Alston Armstrong, left, and senior Alaina Birkel.

Greely senior Kayley Cimino goes up for a kill as Falmouth juniors Lydia Abbott, left, and Danielle Casavant defend.

Greely senior Molly Chapin sends a kill past Falmouth junior Alston Armstrong.

Greely sophomore Morgan Selby shows the form which produced 13 service points Thursday.

Greely senior Molly Chapin has a shot defended by Falmouth junior Lydia Abbott.

Previous Greely-Falmouth results

2015
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 1
Class A South semifinals
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 2 

2014
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0

2013
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2
Falmouth 3 @ Greely 2

2012
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 2
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 1 (Class A quarterfinals)

2011
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 1
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0 (Class A semifinals)

2010
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2
Falmouth 3 @ Greely 0

2009
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 1
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 2
Greely 3 Falmouth 0 (State Final)

2008
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0

2007
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0

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