SCARBOROUGH—There’s almost no separation between the state’s top volleyball teams this season.
Which means a little depth goes a long way.
The Scarborough Red Storm boast a prodigious roster and Tuesday evening, the team’s depth and balance proved to be the difference in yet another five-set thriller against a top foe, in this case, Falmouth.
The host Red Storm dropped the opening set, 25-19, but began to wear the Yachtsmen down in the second game, prevailing, 25-17. Falmouth answered to win the third set, 25-22, but Scarborough began the fourth with a brilliant serving effort from junior Kacey Foerster and led by as many as 10 points before fending off a Yachtsmen rally and winning, 25-18, to extend the match to a fifth and final set.
There, the Red Storm got some key plays from senior Emily Hanson and made fewer mistakes to outlast Falmouth, 15-13, and win the match, 3-2.
Scarborough improved to 5-1, dropped the Yachtsmen to 4-2 and earned some key Heal Points in the process.
“If you’d told me we’d have this record, I wouldn’t have believed it, but coming into the year, I felt this group is special,” said Red Storm coach Jon Roberts. “They work well together. I can bring someone in to hold down the fort. I haven’t had such a deep bench ever. A lot of girls play. We rotated through 14 people. That’s pretty cool.”
Entering Tuesday, the teams had met 16 times since Falmouth started its varsity program in 2007 (please see sidebar, below). Scarborough won both matches a year ago by 3-2 margins to even the all-time series at 8-8. The most memorable came in 2013 state final (a 3-1 Yachtsmen victory).
Falmouth got back to states last year, but lost, 3-2, to Cape Elizabeth. This fall, the Yachtsmen held off Greely in a five-set epic in the opener, then blanked Biddeford and beat Windham and Gorham by identical 3-1 scores before losing, 3-1, to visiting Cape Elizabeth last Thursday.
Scarborough, which was knocked out by Cape Elizabeth in a five-set Class A quarterfinal in 2014, opened with a 3-1 home win over the Capers, then eked out a five-set thriller at Greely. After falling in five-sets at Yarmouth, the Red Storm had no trouble with visiting Biddeford and Gorham, sweeping both teams.
Tuesday, it took two hours to determine a winner and Scarborough had just enough to send its partisan crowd home happy.
The Red Storm started the match on a high note behind kills from Foerster and junior Jordyn Cowan. An ace from Hanson made it 4-1, but Falmouth would rally and go ahead to stay, 8-7. Senior Lydia Farmer added a pair of aces and after Scarborough cut the deficit to 10-9, the Yachtsmen got four straight points, highlighted by a kill from senior Julia Treadwell. Another Treadwell kill made it 17-12, but the hosts got the next two points. Falmouth opened it up again, taking a 21-15 lead, before a kill from senior Taylor Marinko and an ace from junior Jillian Harvie made it 21-17. Farmer answered with a kill and the Yachtsmen added two more points to go up, 24-17, but Marinko had a block and Foerster added a kill to keep hope alive before Scarborough hit the ball out to give the first set to Falmouth, 25-19.
Junior Amanda Watson had five assists and Farmer and junior Malia White delivered five service points apiece to help the Yachtsmen take the first game. Four kills from Foerster and five assists from junior Libby Chadbourne went for naught.
Roberts showcased his bench in the second set, as a dozen different players took to the court for Scarborough, which erased an early 3-0 deficit. The Red Storm rallied to tie, 6-6, then went ahead on a Marinko kill. After Falmouth rallied to tie, 11-11, on an ace from junior Madi Tait, a Foerster kill put Scarborough ahead to stay. Junior Lilly Young then put on a show at the service stripe, producing five straight points, including two aces. The Yachtsmen pulled within 18-14 on a Farmer kill, but sophomore Natalie Simonton had a block, Marinko had a kill and another point made it 21-14, forcing Falmouth coach Molly Northway to call timeout. That inspired three straight points, capped by a kill from White, but Harvie had a kill and after two more points, the Red Storm finished it off as after a great save from Harvie, Marinko’s kill brought the curtain down on the 25-17 set victory.
Young had five service points and three assists, Marinko added five kills and Harvie finished with three kills. Watson had seven assists for the Yachtsmen, but couldn’t prevent the match from being tied.
Falmouth jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third set before Scarborough answered to go up, 5-3, on an ace from Hanson. The Yachtsmen rattled off four straight points, as Farmer had two kills and Treadwell served an ace. A Farmer block, two Farmer kills and a block from senior Caroline DeNoia made it 13-6 Falmouth. The Red Storm then went on a 7-1 run behind Marinko’s service to pull within one, 14-13, but the Yachtsmen got the next three points. After a delay, Scarborough closed to within 18-16 on an ace from senior Chloe Gorey. The Red Storm then made it 20-19, but Tait had an ace, Farmer had successive kills and after a Harvie kill, Farmer’s block made it 24-20. A kill from junior Haley Nelson kept Scarborough alive and the hosts added another point to make things interesting, but a service fault gave Falmouth the 25-22 decision, leaving it one set from victory.
Watson had seven assists in the game and Farmer dominated with six kills and three blocks.
The Red Storm opened up a seemingly insurmountable lead in the fourth set before the Yachtsmen roared back.
Falmouth got the first point, but a kill from Cowan sent Foerster to the stripe and she promptly produced nine successive points, including a pair of aces. After Harvie had a kill to make it 9-1, Northway called timeout, but Cowan’s block pushed the advantage to 10-1.
“I was just trying to serve in spots and make the passers move,” Foerster said. “I felt like the tide was with us.”
The Yachtsmen got two points in a row, but Simonton had a kill, junior Caroline Goodwin had another and Scarborough added a point for a 13-3 lead.
“A run like that is huge,” Marinko said. “We used that momentum.”
“We had a hard time with that first server,” Northway said. “The girls couldn’t figure out the basics. We had a hard time keeping the ball out of the net and we have a short setter, so that’s a huge disadvantage.”
But just when it appeared the Red Storm would roll, Falmouth went on a 10-1 run of its own behind White’s serving to pull within a single point, 14-13. A Marinko kill ended White’s seven-point run. Up 16-14, Scarborough got a kill from Marinko and three more points, capped by a Marinko ace and a Cowan block. After the Yachtsmen got as close as 20-16, Cowan had a kill and Foerster had a kill to make it 22-16. Falmouth crept back to 23-18 on a Treadwell kill, but Cowan had a kill and the Yachtsmen hit the ball into the net to end the set, 25-18, and set up a decisive fifth set.
Foerster’s nine service points, three kills and three blocks from Cowan and eight assists from Goodwin helped the Red Storm stay alive.
“Kacey went on a tear,” Roberts said. “That was a must-win game for us. For her to give us that start was huge. We knew they’d come back. We settled down and continued to play hard. Having that lead helped a lot.”
In high school volleyball, teams play to 15 in the fifth game and have to win by two points. The fifth set would be close throughout, but Scarborough had the final answer.
The Red Storm got a block from Cowan and Harvie added a kill for a quick 2-0 lead. After Treadwell’s kill got a point back for Falmouth, Hanson made a terrific save to keep play alive, setting up Cowan for a kill and a 3-1 lead. After Scarborough gave a point back with a service fault, Harvie’s kill made it 4-2. The Yachtsmen got the next three points to take a 5-4 lead, but Marinko tied it with a kill, Foerster added a kill and the Red Storm got another point to go back up by two, 7-5. A Farmer block sparked a 3-0 Falmouth run for an 8-7 lead, but Foerster’s kill tied the score again and Cowan’s block put Scarborough ahead, 9-8. The Red Storm added a point and after a kill from Walsh, a Yachtsmen fault and a Cowan block made it 12-9 Scarborough. Falmouth answered behind a kill from Treadwell, a kill from Watson and a ball hit into the net, to make it 12-12, but the Red Storm went ahead to stay on a well-placed cross-court kill by Foerster. After an ace from Gorey, Scarborough was on the brink. The Yachtsmen stayed alive on a kill from Treadwell, but the Red Storm finished it off when Falmouth hit the ball into the net and took the set, 15-13, and the match, 3-2.
“It was really fun,” Foerster said. “I think each team played really well, but we pulled it out. I feel like we had more spirit on the court. We always cheered and kept each other up. We’re more like a family than a team. When we’re on the court, we have fun. That’s what separates us.”
“I think our team just has really good chemistry,” Marinko said. “We know we have to keep our heads up and encourage each other. It’s fun to play these matches. It’s tough competition. It comes down to who’s more mentally tough. Going into the last set, Coach told us if we played hard and aggressive, we could hold our head high. We have so much talent on the team. We’re all supportive.”
“It seems like whoever wins game four has a lot of momentum going into game five,” Roberts added. “Game five was close.”
Foerster had 14 kills and 13 service points. Marinko added 10 kills and 12 service points.
“What Taylor did really well was serving,” said Roberts. “We got a lot of points off her serving and she played good defense in the back row. She works really hard.”
Hanson had 10 service points, including three aces.
“I thought Emily came up big for us,” Roberts said. “She had some big digs and made some good reads. It was good to have a senior back there. She’s a calming influence.”
Harvie had 10 kills. Cowan finished with nine kills and seven blocks. Simonton had five blocks, four kills and three service points.
Goodwin had 23 assists and Chadbourne added six. Young had six assists and five service points.
Falmouth was paced by Farmer’s 13 kills, seven service points and three blocks. Treadwell had 10 kills and nine service points. White had 20 service points. Tait added nine. Watson finished with 27 assists.
“I think we’re pretty equal teams, but we showed more inconsistency today,” said Northway. “It came down to errors. Our passing just wasn’t there. We have some things to work on. We have to put points away. We’ve lost to two great teams.”
The powers will meet again Oct. 15 in Falmouth, but both have a lot to contend with first.
Falmouth hopes to respond and end its skid when it hosts Kennebunk Thursday. Next week brings trips to Cony, Greely and Mt. Desert Island. The Yachtsmen also have home matches versus Biddeford and Yarmouth and a trip to Cape Elizabeth remaining.
“I think any of the top five, six teams can take it,” Northway said. “It’ll come down to heart, drive, giving it all on the court and being consistent.”
The Red Storm go to Cony Thursday, host Yarmouth and play at Cape Elizabeth next week, then go to Greely, visit Biddeford, host Kennebunk, play at Falmouth and close at Gorham.
“We have to keep working hard in practice and work on being confident in ourselves and each other and getting better every day,” Marinko said.
“Everybody has to keep improving,” Roberts said. “When we’re really on, we’re almost unstoppable. We can also shut down and give up points and not play well. Consistency is the key for all teams. I think all the coaches and all the players knew that this would be the kind of season it would be. There are so many good teams and it’s spread out. On any given night, anyone could win and anyone could lose. It’s fun to be in the mix. Hopefully we continue to work hard and get better.”
Scarborough sophomore Natalie Simonton (25) and junior Caroline Goodwin celebrate a point during the Red Storm’s 3-2 come-from-behind win over Falmouth Tuesday night.
Mike Strout photos.
Falmouth senior Lydia Farmer meets Scarborough junior Jordyn Cowan (right) and sophomore Natalie Simonton at the net.
Falmouth senior Caroline DeNoia skies to block the shot of Scarborough junior Libby Chadbourne.
Falmouth senior Julia Treadwell gets the ball past Scarborough sophomore Natalie Simonton.
Falmouth junior Madi Tait handles a shot.
Scarborough junior Jillian Harvie delivers a kill.
Scarborough junior Kacey Foerster fires a shot as Falmouth senior Emma Walsh defends.
Falmouth junior Amanda Watson celebrates a point.