Yarmouth sweeps Windham, sets up return trip to Biddeford

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Yarmouth senior Andrea St. Pierre exults after the Clippers beat Windham (25-22, 25-14, 25-18) in Thursday’s Class A preliminary round contest. Yarmouth advanced to meet Biddeford in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—Tuesday evening, Yarmouth’s volleyball team dropped a tough five-set decision in the regular season finale at Biddeford.

Saturday, the Clippers will have an opportunity to avenge it. 

Thanks to a strong performance in Thursday’s playoff opener.

Yarmouth, the No. 6 seed in Class A, hosted No. 11 Windham in a Class A preliminary round contest and while the Clippers were pushed, they had all the answers.

The first set was touch-and-go throughout and was tied five times, but Yarmouth held on for a 25-22 victory, capped by a kill from sophomore Ceanne Lyon.

The second set was deadlocked, 11-11, when senior Andrea St. Pierre stepped to the service line. By the time she was done, the Clippers were ahead by nine and senior Alison Clark, fittingly, punctuated the game with an ace of her own as Yarmouth won, 25-14.

The Clippers appeared poised for an easy third set win, as they took a 20-9 lead, but the Eagles saved their best for last and roared back to within five, 23-18, before Clark produced a kill and Windham hit the ball over the line, giving Yarmouth a 25-18 victory and the match in three sets.

Clark had 22 saves, sophomore Dominique Moran produced 25 assists and the Clippers got contributions for multiple players as they improved to 11-4, ended the Eagles’ season at 7-8 and set up the Biddeford rematch in the quarterfinals Saturday at a time to be announced.

“We knew Windham was much stronger than when we saw them earlier in the season,” said Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. “They’ve improved their power game a  lot. We were ready for a better team. I’m proud of the girls. They fought hard tonight and beat a good team.” 

Return to form

Yarmouth put together another solid season, winning its first five matches and nine of its first 11, but down the stretch, the Clippers suffered tough losses to Falmouth and Biddeford and they finished sixth in a very balanced Class A (see sidebar, below, for previous stories).

Windham, which was ousted by Falmouth in last year’s quarterfinals, started 1-5 this fall, but went 6-2 down the stretch and wound up 11th. 

The teams met Sept. 15 in Windham and Yarmouth prevailed in three sets (25-18, 25-19, 25-19).

The Clippers and Eagles had never met in the playoffs.

Thursday, Yarmouth played a solid match from start to finish and came away victorious.

The Clippers got the first two points of the match, but Windham went ahead, 6-3. Yarmouth roared back with five straight points. After the Eagles made it 8-7, the Clippers got a kill from Clark, another from senior Rachel Chillé, an ace from Moran and a kill from Chillé to go on top, 14-9. Again, Windham answered, scoring four straight points, capped by an ace from freshman Megan Fleck. On the play, Chillé was shaken up when she collided with Clark, but she stayed on the court and came up with a kill on the next point.

The Eagles then ran off three straight points, capped by an ace from senior Jamie Jannarone, to lead, 16-15, but Clark had a kill, Andrea St. Pierre had two aces in a three point run and Yarmouth was back on top, 19-16, forcing Windham coach Chris Cloutier to call time out.

It helped, as his team got three straight points to tie it, but after getting the next point to retake the lead, the Clippers went up, 21-19, on a Clark kill. After an Eagles’ point, Clark had another kill, but Windham senior Cassie Fleck’s kill pulled the visitors within 22-21. A Clark kill was answered by another Eagles’ point, but they would draw no closer, as a service fault put Yarmouth on the brink and Lyon’s kill produced a 25-22 victory.

“When you have a close first game and get it, it makes a big difference,” Senecal said. “When we don’t, it’s hard to recover.”

In the first set, Clark had seven kills, Moran added 11 assists and senior Sydney St. Pierre had four service points.

The Clippers’ service acumen would be an even bigger factor in the second game.

A Clark kill got things started and Yarmouth went up, 5-2, but Windham answered and took a 7-6 lead on a kill from Jannarone. The teams were tied, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10 and one final time at 11-11 before Andrea St. Pierre gave Yarmouth some breathing room.

During a nine-point service run, St. Pierre had just one ace, but she kept the Eagles on their heels, allowing the Clippers to set up Clark three different times for kills. By the time St. Pierre was done, Yarmouth led, 20-11.

“Serving is a huge part of our game and it will be huge against Biddeford too,” Clark said.

Windham got a point back, but Clark and sophomore Marie LeBlanc both had kills and Sydney St. Pierre served up an ace. After the Eagles pulled within 23-14, Clark had a kill, then stepped to the line and served an ace for a 25-14 victory.

Andrea St. Pierre’s nine service points were the highlights of the set, but Clark added nine kills and Moran had seven assists.

The Clippers looked to make quick work of Windham in the third game, but the Eagles wouldn’t go quietly.

After Windham got the first point, the Eagles faulted and a pair of aces from Chillé helped open up a 4-1 lead. After a Windham point, Clark had a kill, Yarmouth got another point and Andrea St. Pierre’s ace opened the lead to 7-2. After a kill from Megan Fleck, the Eagles faulted on a serve and Sydney St. Pierre served four straight points, including an ace, capped by a Clark kill, to make it 12-3. Windham crept back within 15-7, but kills from Chillé and Clark and a win on the longest point of the night made it 20-9 Clippers.

After a timeout, the Eagles began to come back.

Windham won a point, then Megan Fleck served three straight points. Yarmouth got a point, but the Eagles got the next two to cut the deficit to 21-15. An ace from junior Sammie Gosselin made it 22-17 and after a Clark kill, Windham won a long point to make it 23-18.

The Clippers refused to buckle, however, as Clark had a kill and on the next point, the Eagles hit the ball out and after 65 minutes, Yarmouth closed out the match with a 25-18 third set victory.

“We knew we had to get it done,” said Chillé. “Our communication was on tonight. That’s the biggest factor for us. We stayed together. We came together and realized that we were up two (sets) and it could be the last game.”

“We came into it not too cocky, because we knew we’d have to play our best to beat them,” Clark said. 

“Our defensive positioning was better than it’s been in awhile,” Senecal added. “We maintained our aggressiveness and we served much better tonight.” 

Clark’s power again paced the Clippers, as she had 22 kills. Most of those kills came from Moran, who had 25 assists.

“Dominique did a great job setting tonight,” Clark said. “We really clicked.”

Andrea St. Pierre had 14 service points, including four aces.

“Andrea’s poise at the service line was great,” Senecal said. “When she was in the back row, she made perfect pass after perfect pass, keeping our offensive system in flow, allowing us to put the pressure on them.”

Sydney St. Pierre had 12 service points, including two aces.

Chillé added five service points and four kills.

For Windham, Cassie Fleck had seven kills, Jannarone had four kills and four service points and Megan Fleck had eight assists and seven service points.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working on playing one point at a time and pushing back when we have deficits,” said Cloutier. “The girls didn’t want to lose this and they kept pushing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. They did a great job.”

The Eagles made nice strides as the season progressed.

“We had a difficult schedule,” Cloutier said. “We played six of the top eight teams at the start of the season and the girls didn’t let the record dictate what they’d do the rest of the season. We knew we’d need some wins toward the end to get in the playoffs and the girls stepped up and we squeezed our way in.”

Windham expects to compete again in 2017.

“We lose three senior starters and others who played key roles, but hopefully, we’ve put ourselves in a place where we have some talent coming back,” Cloutier said. “I think we’ll have a similar season and they’ll beat my expectations again.” 

Biddeford-bound

In Tuesday’s loss at Biddeford, Yarmouth won the first and fourth sets, but lost the fifth, 12-15.

The teams split two prior playoff meetings, with the Clippers taking a state prelim in 2004, 3-0, and the Tigers winning, 3-1, in the 2009 Class A quarterfinals.

After getting to the quarterfinals but losing in three sets to Cape Elizabeth a year ago, Yarmouth is bound and determined to enjoy a longer stay this time around.

“Playoffs is our second season,” said Chillé. “We just have to work together for the common goal. Last time gives us confidence. We went all out the whole time. We have to stay together and communicate.”

“We have a really good playoff lineup and we think we can keep doing well,” Clark said. “We’re excited. We’re feeling confident.”

“We’re a pretty determined team heading back down to Biddeford,” Senecal added. “We felt we made a few mistakes that we can correct, primarily at the service line. If we continue to improve there, we’ll be right there with them. The seniors want to win at least one more.”

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

Yarmouth senior Alison Clark goes up for one of her 22 kills.

Yarmouth sophomore Marie LeBlanc blocks a shot and is joined at the net by classmate Dominique Moran.

Yarmouth senior Sydney St. Pierre handles a shot.

Yarmouth sophomore Dominique Moran sets the ball. Moran finished with 25 assists.

Yarmouth senior Alison Clark blocks the shot of Windham freshman Megan Fleck.

Yarmouth senior Rachel Chillé digs out a Windham shot.

Yarmouth senior Andrea St. Pierre prepares to serve. St. Pierre’s nine straight service points in the second set helped propel the Clippers to victory.

Yarmouth senior Rachel Chillé celebrates after a Clippers’ point.

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