Yarmouth volleyball advances to semifinals

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YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s volleyball team ensured that the highlight of Machias’ trip south Wednesday would be its time shopping in Freeport, not the time it spent on the court in the teams’ Class B quarterfinal.

The Clippers dispatched Machias in less than an hour, winning in three games, 25-11, 25-20, 25-13, and earned a long bus ride of their own, to Calais Saturday for the semifinals.

In its first Class B playoff match, Yarmouth showed nerves early, but rode its depth, talent and athleticism to the easy win.

“We’ve always just been happy to make the playoffs in Class A when we were struggling to build the program up, so this is exciting for us,” said Clippers coach Jim Senecal.

Yarmouth went 10-4 in the regular season (which included a 3-0 win over Machias on Sept. 24), falling only to defending state champion Biddeford, perennial powerhouse Greely, a Falmouth squad which has played in the past two state finals and a very talented Scarborough team. Each of those foes are Class A squads.

Machias was 5-9 this fall and wound up sixth.

The Clippers were a little nervous early as Machias won the first two points. A kill from senior standout Morgan Cahill got the hosts on track and they took the game one lead for good at 4-3. Machias got within 5-4 before Yarmouth ran off 13 straight points, highlighted by the service of Cahill, which included five aces. Two kills from senior captain Suzanne Driscoll helped lengthen the lead. The Clippers cruised from there and wrapped up the 25-11 first game win on an ace from sophomore Grace Mallett.

Yarmouth started even more slowly in game two, trailing 5-0 before Senecal called timeout.

“Whenever you play a team from Downeast, like Machias, their style of play is the same,” said Senecal. “They’re a knock-it-back team. They’re not concerned with kills. That gets to us after awhile. They force us to make mistakes and sometimes we do.”

His team responded.

Three Cahill kills and a pair of Driscoll aces highlighted a 6-0 run. After Machias drew even at 6-6, Driscoll’s kill put the Clippers on top to stay. An ace from junior Gina Robertson, block from Cahill after a great save from senior Lydia Ruetty and a Cahill kill pushed the lead to 13-7. Machias would get as close as 19-17, but Yarmouth got the next four points, capped by a Mallett kill. Cahill’s ace put the Clippers on the brink and a bad Machias serve brought the curtain down on Yarmouth’s 25-20 set victory.

In the third game, the Clippers fell behind again, 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but an ace from senior captain Bailey Sheehan put Yarmouth ahead, 5-4. The Clippers finally took the lead for good at 9-8. A pair of aces from Cahill and Mallett opened the lead up to 16-9, forcing Machias to call timeout. Mallett added another ace for a 17-9 advantage before Machias responded with a point. Aces from Robertson and Chaill, a Cahill block and kill made it 22-10. Machias got as close as 23-13, but an ace from sophomore Christina Borderia set up the match victory when Machias couldn’t return a serve and Yarmouth closed it out, 25-13.

“Machias is a good team,” Senecal said. “They’ve only had six players.”

Statistically, Cahill had six aces, 12 kills and 13 service points. Driscoll finished with eight kills and four aces and Mallett added 23 assists.

“Morgan had good service runs,” Senecal said. “Grace had one in game three. I thought she played a strong game at setter. She’s a sophomore, still learning the position. I thought she really stood out. She got to the ball when she needed to.”

Next up for the Clippers is 11-4 Calais (a 3-0 winner over Woodland in its quarterfinal) in Saturday’s semifinals. Yarmouth didn’t play Calais in the regular year, but the teams split a pair of games in the preseason. The Clippers will have their hands full with a long bus ride and a hostile crowd, but this team hopes to keep the good times rolling.

“Let’s hope we can keep going,” Senecal said. “We expect it will be a real battle. They fill their gym. Sports are a big deal for them. It should be a big challenge for us.”

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

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