CUMBERLAND—A pair of Down East volleyball contenders had an opportunity to learn where they stood this weekend.
Problem was, the state’s premier power was the one letting them know.
After blanking previously unbeaten Mt. Desert Island, 3-0, Friday night, two-time defending Class A state champion Greely hosted Ellsworth Saturday afternoon in the first-ever countable meeting between the schools.
And the Rangers quickly showed the Eagles why all roads to a title run through Cumberland.
Greely took the first set with relative ease, 25-17, but trailed throughout in the second game and was even down, 23-19, but the Rangers, as they seemingly always do, managed to rally and break their opponent’s spirit by winning the final six points for a 25-23 triumph. To Ellsworth’s credit, it hung tough in game three, but Greely snapped an 18-18 tie, the 15th tie of that set, and went on to a 25-19 victory to improve to 6-1 with the 3-0 triumph, dropping the Eagles to 6-1 in the process.
“We had to refocus a few times today,” said Greely coach Kelvin Hasch. “They’re a scrappy team, but when we needed it, we were able to pull it off. We had smart plays. That helped us out. This might project us to the top.”
Greely opened its season with a thrilling five-set victory over Biddeford (in a state final rematch), then lost at Scarborough (for the first time in 21 meetings), 3-1. The Rangers rebounded with wins over visiting Windham (3-0), host Kennebunk (3-1), host Lake Region (3-0), visiting Gorham (3-0) and visiting Mt. Desert Island Friday night (3-0).
Ellsworth won six of its first seven matches, falling only to MDI in five sets.
Prior to Saturday, the teams had no history, but Greely gave Ellsworth a clinic in winning volleyball.
The Eagles won the first two points of the first game, but the Rangers went on a 7-1 run, capped by an ace from sophomore Hannah Butland, to take control. While Ellsworth hung close, trailing just 19-16 at one point, Greely closed strong, as senior Jordynne Copp had a kill and junior Lauren Weickert delivered two aces to end the set, 25-17.
The second set appeared to be going the Eagles’ way, as they rode the spiking talent of 6-foot-1 junior Sarah Shelton to go on top, 10-4. The Rangers crept back and even made it 17-16, but Ellsworth got a kill from Shelton to lead, 23-19. A service fault allowed Greely to begin its comeback. Copp then began a dominant service run with an ace. She had a second moments later to forge a 23-23 tie, the first since 2-2. Sophomore Alex Tebbs’ kill put the Rangers on the brink and Copp served up another ace to give Greely a 25-23 victory, which put momentum fully in its corner.
” I try to go a point at a time, but I really like that pressure, having the game in my hands,” Copp said. “We just start out slowly because we’re a young team. A lot of kids haven’t played varsity before and they have to understand they have to step up. What we lack in experience we have to make up for in talent. We had to push through.”
“Jordynne has really worked on that jump serve and it’s really helped us,” Hasch said. “That was nice to see.”
The third game was deadlocked 15 separate times before the Rangers finally put it away.
Ellsworth led, 3-2, 4-3, 5-4, 13-11, 14-13, 15-14 and 18-17 before a kill from freshman Kayley Cimino pulled Greely even for the last time. A pair of Cimino aces pushed the lead to 21-18 and a kill from Copp forced the Eagles to call timeout. Ellsworth got a point back to make it 22-19, but Copp registered a kill, senior libero Lexi Foster had an ace and Copp ended it with a kill, giving Greely the 25-19 victory and the match, 3-0.
“We’re back up there,” Copp said. “I like playing these teams. It keeps us on our toes. We’re not used to how they hit and pass. It’s not bump, set, spike every time. It’s nice to see something new.”
Copp finished with 12 kills and five aces. Cimino had 13 assists, four aces and a kill. Tebbs had six kills. Warnock finished with five kills.
“Emily hit the ball really well today,” said Hasch. “We need her hitting the ball like that. Hopefully that wins matches. It takes pressure off the middle.”
Greely (now first in the Class A Heal Points standings) has another big home test upcoming Tuesday against Scarborough.
“It’s going to be a really good match,” Copp said. “I don’t think we were as prepared as we should have been the first time. We’ll have a big crowd.”
“I don’t think we’ll have any trouble getting fired up for Tuesday,” Hasch said. “I think we’re ready to go right now.”
Next comes visits to Falmouth and Biddeford and a home tilt with Falmouth. The regular season closes with a trip to up-and-coming Cape Elizabeth and a match against always-dangerous Gorham.
“I’m very happy with how the season is going,” Copp said. “The returning players realize they have to pick it up a notch and the new players are really helping us.”
“We have a tough week coming up with Scarborough and Falmouth,” Hasch said. “This was a good tuneup for that. It helps our confidence.”
Greely junior Lauren Weickert shows her form as she handles a shot.
Greely senior Michaela Weeks sets the ball for a teammate.
Greely sophomore Hannah Butland soars for a kill.
Greely senior Emily Warnock, who had a strong match, spikes the ball.
Greely freshman Kayley Cimino delivers one of her strong serves.
Greely senior Jordynne Copp registers one of her dozen kills.
Greely senior Lexi Foster (white shirt) and her teammates celebrate a point during the Rangers’ 3-0 home win over Ellsworth Saturday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.