Scarborough seniors Jordyn Cowan, left, Haley Nelson, Kacey Foerster and Emma Budway celebrate at the end of the Red Storm’s 3-1 win over Yarmouth in a Class A state semifinal Wednesday night. Scarborough will meet Greely again in the state final Friday evening.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough’s height, depth and skill proved too much for Yarmouth’s heart and will in a Class A state semifinal round match Wednesday evening at Packy McFarland Gymnasium.
And as a result, the Red Storm are one win away from another championship.
The Clippers, playing their second successive match without senior standout Rachel Chillé, brought great energy at the start and rode the unrivaled power of senior hitter extraordinaire Alison Clark (13 kills) to a 25-21 first set victory.
Scarborough then flipped the switch and controlled the rest of the match.
Senior Kacey Foerster served and hit the Red Storm to a 25-17 win in the second game and Scarborough rolled in the third set as well, 25-9, thanks to the service of senior Libby Chadbourne and stellar net play of senior Jordyn Cowan.
Yarmouth refused to go quietly in the fourth set as Clark returned to form, but the Red Storm gradually pulled away and prevailed, 25-17, taking the match, 3-1.
Scarborough got huge performances from many sources, won its 16th straight decision, improved to 16-1, ended the Clippers’ memorable run and their season at 12-5 and set up a showdown against top-ranked Greely (16-0) in the Class A state match Friday at 7 p.m. at Gorham High School.
“We knew coming in that Yarmouth has gotten a lot better,” said Cowan. “We had jitters the first set, but we stayed together and I’m proud of how we stayed together.”
Scarborough was the No. 5 seed in 2015, but caught fire at the right time and went on to the program’s first state title.
This fall, the Red Storm started with a 3-0 loss at Greely in a state rematch, then found their form and won their next 13 matches to finish with the No. 2 seed in Class A.
After blanking No. 15 Marshwood in the preliminary round, Scarborough swept No. 7 Bonny Eagle as well in the quarterfinals Saturday.
Yarmouth wasn’t viewed as a final four caliber squad when the season commenced, but the Clippers went 10-4, finished sixth and after blanking No. 11 Windham in the preliminary round, went to No. 3 Biddeford Saturday and pulled off a four-set upset.
Yarmouth had to play that match without Chillé, who suffered a concussion after colliding with Clark against Windham.
The Clippers hoped that Chillé would be available for this match, but it wasn’t to be.
“She didn’t get cleared,” Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal said. “We were disappointed. Certainly, we’re a different team with her on the floor. She’s a terrific player, one of the top outside hitters in the league. We don’t make excuses because we had the same team that beat Biddeford. We thought we could be successful tonight.”
“We felt badly for Rachel,” Cowan said. “That’s tough. We knew they still had great players so we had to step up.”
“We knew Rachel didn’t play against Biddeford, but that they played well to beat them,” Scarborough coach Jon Roberts said.
The teams met just once this fall, a 3-1 (25-14, 25-21, 16-25, 25-17) Scarborough victory.
The Red Storm took the lone prior playoff encounter, 3-0, in the 2007 West Region quarterfinals.
Wednesday, in front of a big and noisy crowd, both teams had their moments, but Scarborough wouldn’t be denied.
Chillé was introduced as a starter, but was subbed for before the first serve.
Her teammates then got off to another fast start.
The Red Storm got the first point, but Clark then made her presence felt with consecutive kills. After Scarborough drew even, Clark had two more kills for a 4-2 lead. Back roared the hosts with five points in a row, sparked by a kill and and a block from freshman Asia Mattress and an ace from senior Emma Budway. A pair of Clark kills pulled Yarmouth even at 8-8 and again at 9-9. The Red Storm went up, 12-9, on an ace from Mattress and a kill from senior Jill Harvie, but after a Clark kill, Clippers sophomore Marie LeBlanc rattled off six straight service points, including three aces, for a 16-12 lead. A Cowan block and Harvie kill made it 17-14, but Yarmouth got the net three points, highlighted by another Clark kill, for a 20-14 advantage, forcing Roberts to call timeout.
Scarborough got a point back on a service fault, but Clark had successive kills and the Red Storm hit the ball out, giving the Clippers a 23-15 lead. Scarborough didn’t give in, however, getting kills from Foerster, Mattress and junior Natalie Simonton and a Mattress kill to pull within 23-19, forcing Senecal to call timeout. After the Clippers got the next point, Mattress had a kill and Foerster served an ace, but the hosts then hit the ball out and Yarmouth held on to win the set, 25-21.
“We expected Yarmouth to come in here fired up, coming in off a win over Biddeford,” Roberts said. “I think they were feeling a lot like we felt last year. They were more aggressive that first game. They were on fire hitting and served more aggressive. I feel like we were on our heels passing and my hitters just got the ball in instead of being aggressive.”
Clark had 13 kills, a good match’s worth of production, in just one set.
“Obviously, she’s one of the best players in the state by far,” Roberts said. “She’s awesome. We knew she’d get her kills, but we wanted to slow her down.”
Clark’s power and 11 assists from sophomore setter Dominique Moran helped negate Mattress’ four kills and two blocks.
That would prove to be the Clippers’ highwater mark, however.
Scarborough asserted control of the match in the second game and never looked back.
Yarmouth did get the first points of the set on a Moran ace and a ball hit out, but a block from Cowan was followed by a Foerster kill, a Cowan kill and another point for a 4-2 lead. The Clippers tied it, 4-4, on a service fault and a block from sophomore Ceanne Lyon, but a fault put the Red Storm ahead to stay and a block from Mattress, a pair of Foerster kills and an ace from senior Haley Nelson made it 9-5.
After a kill from LeBlanc momentarily stemmed the tide for Yarmouth, Simonton had a kill and Foerster served an ace and after a Senecal timeout, Simonton had a kill, Foerster served an ace and three more points, highlighted by a Mattress kill, followed, extending the lead to 16-6.
The Clippers did draw back within six at 18-12 and 19-13, but an ace from Budway, a Foerster kill and a fault made it 24-16 Red Storm. After Scarborough faulted, Yarmouth hit the ball into the net and Scarborough had the second game, 25-17, to even the match.
“In game two, we talked about serving harder and putting more pressure on them and that would give us more opportunity to hit,” Roberts said. “Our hitters were more aggressive. Kacey took over the match, serving and she was unstoppable on the outside and we rode that horse pretty hard. Asia, I thought, also played out of her mind.”
In that set, Foerster had six service points and five kills and the Red Storm’s defense stepped up and didn’t allow Clark a single kill.
“(Alison’s) an amazing player,” Cowan said. “We talked about closing the block and we did a great job in the second set.”
“Scarborough proved they’re well-coached,” Senecal said. “They adjusted to the back row attack that Alison was successful with the first set. They pushed everyone back and she had a tough time getting over the block. We tried to get angles, but they had enough people back there to knock the ball back up.”
The pivotal third set went quickly to the Red Storm.
Yarmouth got the first point on a service fault, but the next five went to the hosts, as Cowan and Foerster had kills and Harvie served an ace. After a Clark kill, her first since the first game, Cowan answered with a soft kill of her own. The Clippers pulled within 6-3, but Foerster sent a backwards shot over the net for a point, Nelson served an ace and after a Yarmouth timeout, Nelson served two more points, including an ace, to make it 10-3. A fault ended the run, but kills from Mattress and Simonton and a Foerster ace pushed the lead to 14-5. The Clippers crept back to 14-7, but Simonton had a soft kill, Cowan delivered a more resounding one, Chadbourne served an ace and had six more service points to open up a commanding 23-7 advantage. Yarmouth got the next two points, but a kill from senior Aubrey Humpage, which barely landed in, and an ace from junior Caelyn Sheil closed out the set, 25-9.
In the victory, Chadbourne had eight service points and Cowan came up huge with five kills and two blocks.
“Jordyn did a really good job,” Roberts said. “She put pressure on their hitters. She’s a leader on the floor. Everybody respects her a lot.”
The Clippers put up more of a fight in the fourth game, but couldn’t extend the match.
A Harvie kill started Scarborough off on the right foot, but Yarmouth pulled even at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 5-5 and 6-6 before going up, 7-6, on a LeBlanc ace. A Cowan kill tied the score, but the Red Storm hit the ensuing serve into the net and the Clippers got the next point as well for a 9-7 lead. Scarborough then came to life with six successive points, capped by a pair of Foerster kills, to go on top for good.
A pair of Clark kills cut the deficit to 13-11, but after the Red Storm won a long point, two aces from Budway made it 16-11. A Clark kill pulled Yarmouth back to 16-13, but Mattress came up with a pivotal block. Clark had another kill, but a soft kill from Foerster, followed by a Foerster ace, made it 19-14. Again Clark had a kill, but again, the hosts countered with a couple points, punctuated by a Mattress ace. Out of a timeout, LeBlanc had a block, but Simonton had a kill, senior Caroline Goodwin scored a point after a save and after the Clippers got a point back, a Cowan kill put Scarborough on the brink.
At 8:08 p.m., after 93 exciting minutes, the Red Storm won the fourth set, 25-17, when Yarmouth hit the ball into the net and that gave Scarborough the match, 3-1.
“We were a little tentative at the beginning,” Roberts said. “It meant a lot to the kids. Hopefully we got the nerves out of our system. Hopefully Friday, we’ll just be loose and play.”
The Red Storm got 13 kills and 10 service points (including five aces) from Foerster, 10 kills and four blocks from Cowan, 10 assists and nine service points from Chadbourne, seven kills and four blocks from Mattress, eight service points, including four aces, from Budway, eight service points from Harvie, nine assists from senior Lilly Young, seven kills from Simonton and nine assists from Goodwin.
“We have 14 seniors with a lot of playing experience,” Roberts said. “I think we lost some games last year because I played more people than I had to, but it comes back around in matches like this when someone can step in and make a play. I play a lot of kids and they all step up at different times. I think that’s something special we do. It’s a special group for me. They’ve been with me four years and a lot of them have been varsity in that time.”
For Yarmouth, Clark bowed out with 19 kills. Moran had 19 assists and seven service points. LeBlanc had eight service points.
“I think we just came up against a team that has strength in different positions,” Senecal said. “We did the best we could with what we had. Our kids in the back row played as aggressively as we could. We couldn’t block effectively. Their size was too much for us. When they stayed in system, they were too much. They deserved it. They’re a great team.
“We didn’t want to be happy to be here, we wanted to play with them and we did that in the first set. What turned it around for them was we stopped serving aggressively. We got our serves in, but Scarborough stayed in system and that made the difference. When we were swinging hard, we were right there with them, but when we waited for them to hit, it was no contest, they were a better team in that type of game. They’re tough to defend. Even when we adjusted, their shots went over the block anyway.”
This season, Yarmouth gave Senecal his 100th win with the program, went deeper in the playoffs than most dreamed possible and even improbably won a quarterfinal at Biddeford minus Chillé.
All in all, it was a season to hail.
“It was a special season because the way the kids all got along and how they grew as a team,” Senecal said. “We had a nice, stress-free season. That makes for a fun year. The wins and the fact we got to the semis, I’m very proud of that.”
The Clippers lose captains Chillé and Clark and twins Andrea and Sydney St. Pierre, in addition to reserve Breanna Taylor.
“The two captains have both started for three seasons and we’ll really miss them,” Senecal said. “The St. Pierre twins, their back row defense, nobody talks about it much, but they were outstanding and they played with so much heart. Breanna Taylor contributed at different times.”
Yarmouth will have a hard time replacing those seniors, but expect the 2017 squad to be in contention again.
“We will be the Baby Clippers,” Senecal said. “It’ll be a different season and we look forward to it.”
Scarborough is now three sets from earning another Gold Ball, but to get that shiny prize, the Red Storm will have to defeat a team in Greely that has lost two sets all season (none during the regular year).
Way back on Sept. 2 in Cumberland, the Rangers swept Scarborough, 25-22, 25-15, 25-15).
“We were a different team at the beginning of the season,” said Cowan. “We felt a lot of pressure from the year before, but since the first Greely game, we’ve stepped it up, worked together as a team and we’re much better than we were then.”
Greely and Scarborough have met five previous times in the playoffs with the Rangers winning three times, but last year, the Red Storm overcame a first set loss in the state final and won the next three.
Friday, they’ll look to do it again.
“It’s nervewracking, but I think we can do it,” Cowan said. “I believe in all my teammates. I’m excited.”
“We have to play loose and aggressive and if we do, I think we can beat anybody in the state,” Roberts said. “If we play tentative, that plays into other teams’ games. I think this was our gut check and hopefully Friday will be gravy and kids will play hard. That’s what happened last year and hopefully we can do it again.”
With a big crowd cheering her on, Scarborough senior Emma Budway prepares to serve the ball.
Yarmouth senior Alison Clark goes up for one of her 13 first set kills as Scarborough freshman Asia Mattress defends.
Yarmouth sophomore Ceanne Lyon goes up for a kill as Scarborough senior Jordyn Cowan defends.
Yarmouth senior Alison Clark, Scarborough freshman Asia Mattress (7) and senior Haley Nelson meet at the net.
Yarmouth senior Andrea St. Pierre handles a shot.
Scarborough freshman Asia Mattress blocks a shot over Yarmouth sophomore Skylar Bennett.
Yarmouth senior Sydney St. Pierre, left, and sophomore Ceanne Lyon defend the kill attempt of Scarborough senior Kacey Foerster.
Scarborough senior Aubrey Humpage exults after a point.