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The Greely volleyball program has now won nine state championships over the past 10 years, but it’s safe to say that this one was special and perhaps the most satisfying.
The Rangers were on a mission to not just add more hardware, but to win this one for late assistant coach Bruce Churchill, who lost his battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in the offseason.
“Every single match, we broke the huddle with, ‘Church!'” said longtime Greely coach Kelvin Hasch. “He was on the girls’ minds constantly. They were driven all year.”
Greely started slowly this fall, losing a pair of early matches to Biddeford, but finished on an eight-match win streak to wind up 12-2 and second in Class A. After holding off Falmouth in an exciting four-set match in the quarterfinals, the Rangers got all they could handle from visiting No. 6 Scarborough in a state rematch last Wednesday night in the semifinals.
The Red Storm took the first game, 25-21. Greely then seemingly seized control by winning the second (25-19) and third (25-14) sets, but soon found itself down, 16-0, in the fourth game. Then, the Rangers almost pulled off a comeback for the ages, pulling within a point at 23-22 before finally falling, 25-22. That set up a winner-take-all fifth set, but Greely had the momentum and ended the match with a 15-7 triumph.
“It was a dramatic match,” said Hasch. “We came out for the fifth set and it was like, ‘It’s time for you to go home, Scarborough.'”
Kristen Atwood had 15 kills, Haleigh Roach 28 service points and Lexi Foster 15 service points and 15 digs in the victory.
That sent Greely to Husson College in Bangor to earn a third shot at Biddeford Saturday night in the Class A Final.
The Rangers reminded the Tigers why it’s so hard to beat a good team three times, especially this good team, winning the match in four sets.
Greely set the tone with a 25-17 victory in the first game.
“The girls were ready to go, like when you put horses in the starting gate,” joked Hasch. “In the blink of an eye, we were up, 7-0. We had two or three kills by Haleigh, one from Kristen and one from Katie (Ventre) and we were off and running.”
Biddeford evened the match with a 25-22 triumph in the second game, but lost setter Mariah Hebert to injury in the process.
The Rangers took the third game, 25-16, and completely dominated the fourth, 25-7, clinching the title on a kill from Lauren Weickert.
“We put it all together,” said Hasch. “Boy, they sure came in fired up and confident. I told them it’s very hard for someone to beat them three times. We got our communication working. I challenged our seniors to step up and put it all out there. Everyone of them came through.
“Early in the season, we were getting used to playing with each other. We hadn’t found a set routine. When we went through our end-of-season stretch, that’s when we saw what we could do. We found a way to win.”
Roach had 14 kills and 16 assists, Dani Cimino finished with 29 assists and 15 service points, Ventre had 12 kills, Krystyna Rybka 21 digs and 13 service points and Delaney Nolin 11 service points.
Greely is losing seniors Atwood, Cimino, Nolin, Roach and Ventre to graduation, but returns the likes of Foster, Rybka, Weickert and Jordynne Copp. Emily Warnock has stood out in practice and should play a bigger role, while others will fill holes.
You can expect to see Greely making a run at another title a year from now.
“I have good freshmen coming up,” said Hasch. “You never know how the pieces will fit. The competition gets better and the qualify of play keeps going up, but we can definitely make a run.”
The Greely volleyball team culminates the season as it has so many times before, celebrating a state title, following Saturday’s 3-1 win over Biddeford. The Rangers made it 10 championships in 11 seasons.
Greely seniors Delaney Nolin (left), Katie Ventre (center) and Haleigh Roach (right) kiss the newly won trophy.
The North Yarmouth Academy volleyball team was given the Class B sportsmanship award at Saturday’s state final match.
Left to right: Athletic director Jack Hardy, Anna Bilodeau, Sydney Garcia, Blake Morton, Anya Siviski, Lizzie Roche, Lilly Deering, Keeley Bartolini, coach Barbara Farrell.