Yarmouth’s volleyball team celebrates a point during its 3-0 win over Greely in Saturday’s Class B state quarterfinal.
YARMOUTH—Greely’s volleyball team came to Yarmouth Saturday evening for a Class B state quarterfinal believing that its strength of schedule and recent improvement was enough to spring an upset of the Clippers.
Then the ball got tossed up and Yarmouth left no doubt that it has the necessary ingredients to make a run at a state title.
The Clippers never trailed in three sets en route to making a powerful statement.
Yarmouth pulled away to a 25-13 first set victory behind seven assists from senior captain Dominique Moran, four kills and three blocks from sophomore Maggie Murray and seven service points from senior captain Marie LeBlanc.
The second set was a similar story, as the Clippers raced to a 5-0 lead and never looked back, as Moran and Murray each had six service points and despite a late Rangers’ rally, Yarmouth won, 25-10.
In the third game, the Clippers shot to leads of 9-1 and 10-3, but Greely fought back and got as close as 20-17 before Yarmouth finished it off, 25-18, to take the match, 3-0.
The Clippers improved to 13-2 on the year, ended the Rangers’ season at 5-10 and advanced to host No. 3 Brewer (13-2) in the state semifinals Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“We were happy that we had a chance to play Greely because we felt that they were the best team that we could have played in the quarterfinals,” said Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. “We wanted to be challenged and Greely did that.”
For years, all volleyball teams in the state were chasing Greely. That included Yarmouth, which has a pretty impressive recent record of success itself, winning three Class B state titles in a four year span between 2011-14.
This fall, the Clippers were the second-best team in Class B, losing only to defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth and Class A top seed Falmouth in going 12-2 and earning the No. 2 spot for the playoffs.
Greely, meanwhile, failed to post a winning record for the first time, going 5-9, but the Rangers gave several teams fits.
On Sept. 13, host Yarmouth downed Greely in four-sets (23-25, 25-11, 25-17, 25-11).
The Rangers had won both prior playoff meetings (see sidebar, below).
Saturday, Greely hoped to make things interesting, but the Clippers were just too strong, needing just 62 minutes to sweep the match.
The first point went to the hosts and the second to the Rangers, but that would prove to be Greely’s highwater mark. A kill from LeBlanc and an ace from senior captain Ceanne Lyon helped open up a 5-1 lead. With the score 7-4, Murray had three straight kills and after longtime Greely coach Kelvin Hasch called timeout, Yarmouth tacked on two more points for a 12-4 advantage.
A kill from Rangers senior Morgan Selby stemmed the tide and a Selby kill, a block from senior Madison Scott and an ace from sophomore Eliza Rowland pulled Greely within 13-8. With the score 15-10, LeBlanc had a kill and Murray added a block and LeBlanc a kill for a 19-11 advantage, forcing a second Rangers’ timeout.
It didn’t help as Murray had a kill, Lyon served an ace and after Greely got two points back, a service fault, a Yarmouth point, a LeBlanc ace and a Rangers’ return that hit the ceiling gave the Clippers the first game, 25-13.
Selby had four kills and two assists for Greely, but Yarmouth’s passing (seven assists for Moran), hitting (four kills for Murray) and serving (seven service points from LeBlanc) was too much, as the Clippers set the tone.
“A strong start is always a focus,” said Moran. “We didn’t want to dig ourselves out of a hole.”
“The last time we had them in our gym, they jumped on us in the first set, so we were really locked in in the first set and that made a difference,” Senecal said. “We took care of business and went from there.”
Two kills from sophomore Evelyn Lukis and another from Lyon helped spark a 5-0 run to start the second set. A kill from Lyon, another from Murray, an ace from LeBlanc and a block from Murray helped open up a 15-4 lead. A Lukis kill, a Murray ace and another Lukis kill stretched the advantage to 22-5. When Moran served up an ace, the score was 24-6, but Greely refused to fold, scoring four straight points, featuring a Selby kill and a Selby ace, before a service fault gave the Clippers a 25-10 second game victory and a commanding 2-0 advantage.
Moran led the way in that set with six service points and six assists.
“I’m pretty confident serving,” Moran said. “I’ll see who I’m serving at and I know who can get what. I try to move the ball around and make it hard for them.”
“Dominique played with so much heart tonight,” said Senecal. “This was very special to her. She wanted this a lot. She took that leadership role on to herself tonight and did a great job.”
Yarmouth would wrap it up in three sets, but not before Greely made things difficult.
A kill by Lukis got things started and successive aces from Moran, followed by another Lukis kill made it 6-0. The Rangers got a point back, but a service fault and a pair of Lukis aces pushed the lead to 9-1. Greely then settled down and got back within 10-7 on a kill from Rowland. The Clippers went up, 13-8, on a Murray kill and 15-9 on an ace from Lyon, but the Rangers made it 17-14 when senior Katy Roy served an ace, forcing Senecal to call timeout.
It worked, as Lyon had a kill, Murray had a kill and after a service fault, Yarmouth went up, 20-15. After a pair of Selby kills cut the deficit to three, Greely couldn’t return the ball, sophomore Kaitlyn Bennett served an ace, Lukis had a kill, Bennett served once more ace and after a service fault, a Lukis kill ended the set, 25-18, and gave the Clippers the match in three sets.
“Our schedule hasn’t been as strong as in past years, so we were super-excited to play such a competitive team,” Moran said. “We needed a good match. It was really important to finish. We remember Falmouth last year (letting a 2-0 lead slip away in the semifinals). We knew we had to give it everything we had. It means a lot to beat Greely. I wanted this for us and for players who already graduated.”
“We all know this is a momentum sport,” Senecal said. “We had to stop that. They got a few good points, but once we fixed that, we were OK. It’s still Greely on the front of that uniform. They’ll always be a well-coached team. We stayed in our system even though they had some early blocks and they didn’t have our firepower at the end.”
Moran had 24 assists and 11 service points. Murray finished with 10 kills, seven service points and four blocks. Lukis added 11 kills. Bennett finished with nine service points. LeBlanc had eight service points. Lyon had four service points, four kills and a pair of blocks.
“We spread the ball around and a lot of our kids got big numbers tonight,” said Senecal. “Our hitters are tough because we can hit from anywhere on the map. We’re strong on the right, we’re strong on the left and our middles are coming along too.”
Greely was paced by eight kills from Morgan Selby.
“Selby is a tremendous player,” said Senecal. “She plays with great heart and did everything she could.”
Sophomore Bridget Lary had 10 assists and four service points.
“Yarmouth came to play,” said Hasch. “It was tough defending against their hitters. That was the difference. We weren’t nervous, they just executed really well. I thought maybe we could steal one, but it didn’t happen. I’m proud of my girls. They didn’t give up. They kept trying. We couldn’t seem to get a break anywhere. It was one of those games.”
The Rangers will look back on this season and be proud of how much they improved.
“I told the girls the difference is night and day from where we started to where we ended up,” Hasch said. “They worked hard every day. We have find some more hitters. We’ll try again next year and see what happens.”
Wednesday in the state semifinals, Yarmouth will meet a Brewer squad it didn’t face this year. The teams have no playoff history.
The Clippers are hoping to take care of business, then area volleyball aficionados are hoping Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth square off in the state match Friday night in South Portland.
“I haven’t seen Brewer in my four years, but I’m very confident if we do what we should do, the job will get done,” said Moran. “We want Cape so badly. Last year was such a bummer not getting there, so we want to get there this time and win. I’m a senior and I want a Gold Ball.”
“Fortunately, my wife wanted to go leaf peeping last Saturday, so we took a nice drive to East Machias to watch Brewer play,” Senecal said. “They’re a classic Down East school that plays a lot of defense, extends rallies and waits for you to make a mistake. We cannot look ahead to Cape. If it happens that it’s us and Cape (Friday), it would be fitting because I think we’re the two best teams in Class B.”
2010 Class A quarterfinal
Greely 3 Yarmouth 1
2004 state quarterfinal
Greely 3 Yarmouth 0