Falmouth volleyball rallies to shock Greely
CUMBERLAND—Maybe the Falmouth volleyball team is starting to get the hang of this whole beating Greely thing.
Ten days after letting a two set lead slip away on their home court only to capture the winner-take-all fifth to snap a six-match skid at the hands of their nemesis, the Yachtsmen came to Greely Tuesday night and set about winning in a much more challenging fashion.
The two-time defending Class A state champion Rangers won a riveting first game, 29-27, then never trailed en route to a 25-20 triumph in the second, putting Falmouth on the ropes.
But these Yachtsmen, featuring several key players who have lost enough to Greely, thank you very much, got off the deck.
Falmouth staved off elimination with a 25-19 win in the third game, then made things very interesting by holding on in the fourth game by the same score to set up a first-team-to-15 fifth set.
There, throwing off the weight of history, in their nemesis' gym no less, the Yachtsmen made a powerful statement, traiiling for all of one point, before going on to prevail, 15-9, and take the match, 3-2.
Falmouth got clutch performances from seniors Riley Burfeind and Katrina Meserve, juniors Leigh Bernardy, Ally Hickey and Megan Tammaro and sophomore Julia Treadwell as it improved to 11-1 and dropped Greely to 8-4 in the process.
"(Losing close matches to Greely) was last year's issue," said Yachtsmen coach Gary Powers. "The girls pulled it back themselves. They did an awesome job. They believed in themselves. They made all the smart plays. They went off and talked and came back and did what they had to do."
Enough is enough
Falmouth won nine in a row to start the year, blanking host Gorham and visiting Thornton Academy, winning 3-1 over visiting Biddeford and host Cape Elizabeth, blanking host Kennebunk and visiting Cheverus, downing host South Portland in four games, visiting Lake Region in three, then holding on for a 3-2 win over visiting Greely, beating the Rangers for the first time since 2010 in the process. Last Tuesday, the Yachtsmen led visiting Scarborough, two sets to one, but let it slip away and fell, 3-2. Falmouth then got back in the win column Thursday with a 3-1 victory over visiting Gorham.
Greely opened the 2013 season with a thrilling five-set victory over Biddeford (in a state final rematch), then lost at Scarborough (for the first time in 21 all-time 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). visiting Mt. Desert Island (3-0) and visiting Ellsworth (3-0) before losing again to Scarborough, this time on their home court, 3-0. After losing at Falmouth, 3-2, Greely bounced back Thursday with a 3-0 win at Biddeford.
Greely had won 12 of the past 16 meetings (please see sidebar, below), including all three matches in 2012, but on Oct. 5, Falmouth got over the emotional hump of beating the Rangers.
This time around, the Yachtsmen earned an even more impressive 'W.'
The first set featured 11 ties, with no team leading by more than four points. The Yachtsmen were up, 21-18, after a kill from Meserve, but Greely coach Kelvin Hasch called timeout and his charges responded with a 5-0 run, sparked by three kills from senior Jordynne Copp and a pair of aces from senior Lexi Foster, including one that hung on the net before falling over.
Falmouth rallied to tie the game at 23-23, but a Copp kill put the Rangers on the brink. A service fault and Greely mistake gave the Yachtsmen a 25-24 lead, but the visitors couldn't close it out as the ensuing serve hung on the net, then fell back on the Falmouth side for a fault. Sophomore Hannah Butland followed with an ace, but a kill from Hickey tied the score, 26-26.
A kill by freshman Kayley Cimino gave the Rangers a 27-26 lead, but blocks from Burfeind and Hickey led to a kill from Burfeind to tie the score one final time, 27-27. After Copp dove to keep play alive, Greely won the next point, then finally closed out the marathon first game, 29-27, thanks to an ace from junior Lauren Weickert.
Prior to 2013, the Rangers stole games like that from the Yachtsmen all the time and they didn't respond well.
So when Greely took the second set, it appeared to be business as usual.
A pair of aces by Cimino put the Rangers ahead. A kill from Butland, a Copp kill and a Cimino ace made it 5-0. Falmouth eventually tied the match at 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12, but a Copp kill gave Greely the lead for good. At 19-18, the visitors appeared to earn the tying point, but it was overruled and given to the Rangers. A Greely service fault pulled the Yachtsmen within a point, but a kill from sophomore Alex Tebbs and two aces from senior Krystyna Rybka pushed the lead to 24-19. Treadwell kept hope alive with a block, but a Cimino kill ended things, 25-20, and put the Rangers one game from victory.
When Tebbs had a kill. and Cimino an ace to start the third game, Falmouth was in deep trouble, but the Yachtsmen erupted for seven straight points to seize control. Kills from Meserve, Burfeind, Treadwell and a pair of Burfeind aces sparked the surge. Falmouth got the lead up to as many as 11 points, 16-5, 17-6 and 18-7, before Greely crept back.
When Tebbs delivered a kill, the deficit was just six, 18-12. A Burfeind kill, Meserve kill and Burfeind ace pushed the lead back to 21-12 and when Bernardy registered a kill, the Yachtsmen were up, 24-14, and one point away, but the Rangers refused to go quietly, scoring five straight points, before Meserve finally ended it with a kill, 25-19.
While few expected Falmouth to lose three straight sets, there weren't many who thought the Yachtsmen could come all the way back either.
But that's exactly what Falmouth would do.
As was the case in game number three, the Yachtsmen shot to quick leads of 5-1, 11-4 and eventually 14-6, after Meserve registered a kill. Greely got three straight points, but a Meserve kill and Hickey one-handed dig made it 16-10. The hosts got as close as 18-15 on a Tebbs kill, but Burfeind had consecutive kills to make it 21-15. After the Rangers made it 21-17, Burfeind had a kill, then an ace. Meserve then ended it with a kill and Falmouth had a 25-19 victory, setting up a winner-take-all fifth game.
The Yachtsmen went into the finale confident, but Greely wasn't about to buckle.
A block by Treadwell got things off on a positive note for Falmouth. The Rangers took a 3-2 lead on an ace from senior Lexi Foster, but the Yachtsmen got four straight points, punctuated by a Hickey kill. With the score 9-6 and the match very much in the balance, Falmouth got a point, gave one up, then got consecutive kills from Burfeind to make it 12-7.
Hasch called timeout and tried to rally his team, but after a Tebbs kill, Greely committed yet another service fault (its 21st of the match). Copp kept hope alive with a kill, but a block by Treadwell was followed by a block by Hickey and that was that, the Yachtsmen had a 15-9 win and the match.
"I think we really came together as a team and we pulled it out," Burfiend said. "I really love my team. We have great chemistry. Getting behind and getting down has been a problem in the past, but this year we've recognized that. We're really close. The bench pumps us up and keeps us motivated. We're really supportive of each other. I think we passed well. Everyone knew where their spot was. We dove for the ball and we were really aggressive. I think we had confidence. The last time we played them, we won the fifth game. Once we got into the rhythm of the fifth game and racked up points, we knew we could do it. They're a great team. We'll probably see them again. It's always stressful, but we're handling it better this year."
"It's never easy," Powers said. "Every time I see (Greely), they get stronger. Credit to them. It's a great program."
Burfeind stuffed the stat sheet with 12 kills, four aces and three blocks.
"Riley was a spark," Powers said. "She played well. She passed well. She served well and her hits were amazing."
Meserve delivered 11 kills, a block and an ace.
"Katrina did an awesome job passing the ball so we could run an offense," Powers said.
Treadwell had six blocks, three aces and a pair of kills.
"Julia went from JV last year to starting on varsity as a sophomore," Powers said. "She's doing an awesome job."
Hickey finished with six kills, three blocks and an ace.
For Greely, Copp had a dozen kills, Cimino finished with six kills and five aces, Tebbs had eight kills, Weickert six kills and two aces, Foster seven aces and Butland five aces.
"We couldn't make serves and we couldn't pass when we wanted to pass," Hasch said. "I thought we could get them in the last game, but we had no confidence. It's just one of those things where whatever we tried, it kept compounding more and more mistakes. It was clearly evident in the first two sets, we were the better team, but we got too confident and stopped playing. This team couldn't dig down and come back. I don't know if we haven't acquired that yet. We've tried a lot of different things."
While a third meeting could easily happen in the playoffs, both teams have key regular season matches to win first.
Greely (now fourth in the Class A Heal Points standings) is back in action Thursday at dangerous Cape Elizabeth.
"We have to go and take care of Cape," Hasch said. "They're very confident. We have to beat somebody. We have one day to get ready for them. I told the girls to go home and get their heads straight and come to practice tomorrow to work hard."
The Rangers close at Gorham Monday.
"We're digging a deep hole for where we want to go," said Hasch. "We have to learn from our mistakes. We have to play as a team of six people playing hard."
Falmouth (which was first in Class A at press time) is still hoping to finish as high as possible and has two pivotal matches remaining. Thursday, the Yachtsmen area at Biddeford, then Monday, they get another crack at Scarborough.
"Scarborough was a tight match the first time," said Burfeind. "It was frustrating, but we knew we played a really good game and we're excited to see them Monday."
"Even that (previous) loss, (Scarborough) beat us by 15 and we beat them by 15," Powers said. "It was a battle and we'll see them again. We need to be a little more consistent."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Greely-Falmouth results
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 2
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 1 (Class A quarterfinals)
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2
Falmouth 3 @ Greely 0
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0
@ Greely 3 Falmouth 0