Yarmouth sweeps Bonny Eagle in prelim; Cape showdown next

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YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s volleyball team was so excited to get on to Cape Elizabeth that it dispatched Bonny Eagle in a mere 55 minutes in Thursday’s Class A preliminary round match.

The eighth-ranked Clippers didn’t allow the first-year varsity Scots, the No. 9 seed, to breathe in the first set, riding long service runs from junior Alison Clark and senior Kenzie Sheehan to erase an early 2-0 deficit en route to a 25-6 triumph.

Bonny Eagle was much more competitive in the second set, but the power of senior Heather Clark and the serving of secret weapon, senior reserve Cat Thompson, proved to be too much as Yarmouth prevailed, 25-14.

The Clippers then went out and closed out its first Class A playoff victory with a 25-11 win in game three, reminding the rest of the deep and talented field that they plan to be a factor this postseason.

Yarmouth got 17 service points, including eight aces, from Alison Clark and terrific contributions from several players who don’t normally spend a lot of time on the court, as it improved to 11-4, ended the Scots’ season at 10-5 and in the process, advanced to meet the defending Class A champions, 12-2 Cape Elizabeth, the top seed, Saturday at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

“We made some adjustments to our lineup that we wanted to practice,” said Clippers coach Jim Senecal. “We strengthened our team a little bit, which we needed to do since we’re going to play the number one seed Saturday.”

First step

Yarmouth believes it’s one of a half dozen teams that could wind up winning the Class A championship, but the Clippers are going to have to do it the hard way, from a low seed.

After winning three Class B championships in four seasons, including last year, Yarmouth moved up to Class A this fall and more than proved it belonged, winning 10 matches and playing very tough in losses to Greely, Scarborough, Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth. Had the Clippers beaten the Rangers or Red Storm in five-set losses, they would have finished much higher in the standings, but they were relegated to the No. 8 spot, forcing them to host Thursday’s prelim.

Bonny Eagle, a first-year varsity program, also won 10 times this fall and lost in five sets to Windham and Cheverus, in four sets to Windham and in three to Thornton Academy en route to the No. 9 ranking.

Thursday’s meeting was the first between the schools and Yarmouth quickly took care of business.

The upstart Scots actually won the first two points of the match, thanks to an ace from senior Breanna Lifland and a kill from senior Katie Champagne, but that proved to be their highwater mark.

An Alison Clark kill got the Clippers started and after senior Liz Clark served up an ace, a Sheehan kill gave Yarmouth its first lead. Bonny Eagle tied the score on a block from sophomore Mia Ferrante, but a service fault put the Clippers ahead to stay and Alison Clark rattled off the next nine points behind her serving, which included four aces. Clark got help from Chillé and Sheehan, who both had two kills during the run.

Bonny Eagle ended the 10-0 run behind a block from Champagne, but Yarmouth continued to pull away, as Sheehan took her place at the service line and produced five consecutive points, including four aces, to make it 20-5. After a service fault ended a 6-0 run, the Scots gave the ball right back with a fault, Alison Clark had a kill, the Clippers got another point, senior Heather Clark had her first kill and Bonny Eagle hit the ball into the net, giving Yarmouth the first set, 25-6.

In that first game, which only took 13 minutes, Alison Clark had nine service points, including four aces, Sheehan added six service points, including four aces, Liz Clark had seven assists and the Clippers’ ninth ace out of their 25 points, and Chillé added three kills.

“We lost the first couple points which gave us the energy to go on a run,” Alison Clark said. “The serving helped us win the first set. I realized the spots on the court that were open and I got on a roll.”

“The way the schedule was tiered this year, (Bonny Eagle) hadn’t seen anything like the way our kids serve,” Senecal said. “When our serves are on, we’re tough. When we’re aggressive and we get them in, we do a nice job.”

Consecutive aces from Liz Clark to open the second set suggested another easy Yarmouth win, but the Scots would settle down and make it competitive.

A pair of Alison Clark aces helped open up an 8-1 lead, but after Bonny Eagle coach Kelley Champagne called timeout, the Scots won two of the next three points. A couple Heather Clark kills and a Chillé ace made it 13-4. The Scots then got the next two points, their first back-to-back points since going up, 2-0, in the first set, but Heather Clark had a kill and followed that up with an ace to extend the lead to 15-6. Bonny Eagle got as close as 15-9, thanks to a kill from Katie Champagne, but the Clippers ran off four straight points, highlighted by three aces from Thompson. The Scots pulled within 21-13, but a fault, followed by a Heather Clark kill, made it a 10-point game. After the teams traded points, Yarmouth ended the set on a Bonny Eagle mis-hit, going up, 2-0, by virtue of the 25-14 victory.

In that set, Alison Clark had five more service points, Liz Clark added four assists, Thompson had three aces and Heather Clark produced four kills.

Senior Noelle Yunker helped close out the match as she replaced Liz Clark at setter for the third game.

Alison Clark’s kill was the first point of the set. After the teams traded faults, Alison Clark had a pair of aces for a 5-1 lead. Kills from Chillé, Yunker, Chillé again and an ace from senior Morgan Hamre pushed the lead to 10-2. After Bonny Eagle pulled within 11-6 on an ace from senior Brooke Ward, Heather Clark had a pair of kills and Chillé served up an ace to make it 15-6. After the Scots got consecutive points, a fault helped spark a Clippers’ run, which included a kill from Alison Clark and an ace from junior Andrea St. Pierre, to make it 20-8. An ace from junior Sydney St. Pierre pushed the lead to 23-9, but the visitors got the next point. After Yarmouth got a point on a fault to get to the brink, Bonny Eagle stayed alive only to set the stage for an Alison Clark kill to end it as the Clippers took the game, 25-11, and the match in three quick sets.

“We definitely knew we were the better team even though we were just one place above them (in the standings), but we wanted to treat them like any other game to get ready for Cape on Saturday,” Alison Clark said. “If we came into this game soft, we’d do the same thing Saturday. We set our expectations higher than we normally would. I feel like our record and our standing doesn’t represent the team we are. I think we’re a really good, bonded team. Moving up to Class A this year was huge. I think we’ve done really well.” 

“(Bonny Eagle) played hard,” Senecal said. “For a new team, they’ve really done a nice job. They have really big numbers. They’re excited about volleyball there. I’m happy for them. They’ll be a really good program.” 

Alison Clark led the way with 17 service points, including eight aces. She also had six kills. Liz Clark finished with 11 assists, Heather Clark had seven kills, Sheehan added seven service points, including four aces and Chillé had seven service points and five kills.

Off the bench, Yunker had seven assists and Thompson had three aces.

“Everyone on the bench works so hard and cheers so hard,” Alison Clark said. “It’s really nice we can pick anyone off the bench and they’ll come out and play with such passion. Noelle really stepped it up with her passing tonight.”

“We’re trying to bring in additional strength at setter,” Senecal said. “Noelle came in and did a nice job tonight and had several assists. Cat Thompson is fun to watch at the service line and did a nice job. You never know when you’ll need these kids.”

Bonny Eagle was paced by three kills and two blocks from Champagne and three kills and three service points from Lifland.

Cape again

This past Saturday, Yarmouth gave the defending champions all they could handle, winning the first set, 25-20, then hanging tough in three others, losing, 18-25, 24-26, 21-25. That showing gives the Clippers confidence going into a first-ever postseason showdown with the Capers.

“It was really close the other night,” Alison Clark said. “We’re prepared for them. We’re more ready this time. I think we’ll come out strong. We need to get our passing down. When our passing is down, we set up our hitters and no one can stop us.”

“I told the kids at the start of the week, if we made no adjustments and just went (to Cape), they’re probably a better team than us, but we’re not going in that way,” Senecal said. “We feel our changes will help us and we’re confident going there. We know it will be tough, but if we get them early, you never know with momentum.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Yarmouth junior Andrea St. Pierre, left, junior Alison Clark and junior Sydney St. Pierre celebrate at the conclusion of the Clippers’ 3-0 victory over Bonny Eagle in Thursday’s Class A preliminary round match. Yarmouth goes to top-ranked, defending Class A state champion Cape Elizabeth Saturday for the quarterfinals.

Mike Strout photos.

Yarmouth senior Heather Clark spikes the ball over Bonny Eagle junior Samantha Morash.

Yarmouth junior Sydney St. Pierre dives to save the ball.

Yarmouth senior Cat Thompson, who played very well off the bench, handles a shot.

Yarmouth junior Alison Clark is met at the net by Bonny Eagle junior Samantha Morash. 

Yarmouth senior Noelle Yunker tries to block the shot of Bonny Eagle senior Brooke Ward.

Yarmouth junior Rachel Chillé sends the ball over the net between Bonny Eagle junior Samantha Morash and sophomore Jenna Litif.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.