(Editor’s note: For the complete Yarmouth-Machias and Greely-Falmouth match stories, please visit theforecaster.net)
The Yarmouth volleyball team is going somewhere no previous Clippers squad has ever gone – the state final.
Yarmouth will meet Bucksport Saturday in the Class B title match and the Clippers aren’t the only local squad looking for a championship.
After a one-year absence, Greely has returned to form and after eliminating Falmouth, 3-0, in the semifinals Saturday, the Rangers will battle Scarborough in the Class A state match Saturday afternoon.
Yarmouth spent the past several years as a middle-of-pack contender, but after joining Class B this fall, the Clippers felt they could make a title run. After a 10-4 regular season (the only losses were to Class A finalists Greely and Scarborough and last year’s finalists Biddeford and Falmouth), Yarmouth earned the No. 3 seed.
Last Wednesday, the Clippers hosted No. 6 Machias (which only had six players) and made quick work of the visitors, rolling in three games, 25-11, 25-20, 25-13. Senior Morgan Cahill had six aces, 12 kills and 13 service points. Senior Suzanne Driscoll finished with eight kills and four aces and sophomore Grace Mallett added 23 assists.
“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 Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal.
Saturday, the Clippers had to take the long bus ride to No. 2 Calais and again they prevailed in three games, 25-16, 25-19, 25-14 to improve to 12-4. Driscoll and senior Lydia Reutty both had six kills. Junior Gina Robertson finished with four.
“It was a great match for us,” Senecal said. “The lead changed a couple of times early and then Morgan really got us going offensively with six kills. Defensively, our back row seemed to be covering the floor better than they had all year. We made fewer mistakes than Calais and pulled away. In game two, they jumped on us early and were able to hold on to their lead and had a 16-14 advantage before Gina came through with two aces and four consecutive service points to give us our first lead of the game. Once we got that lead back, our whole team seemed to jell and we closed them out. Game three started off with Suzanne collecting three aces and five consecutive service points. Looking across the court after that run, you could almost tell that the Calais side was getting a little down. We controlled the rest of the match and finished them out.
“In many ways, Suzanne dominated the match with her defense,” she added. “I can’t tell you the number of times she got to deep balls in the corners that no other kid on either team could have ever gotten to. She reads hitters so well and is always moving in the right direction even before the hit. Lydia played her best match of the year collecting a half dozen kills. Her decision making and smart positional play really helped us. Grace collected 23 assists and was setting our hitters right where they needed the ball. She’s been very good in our two playoff games so far. (Senior) Bailey Sheehan had a couple of big kills for us. Our bench played strong as well. Kids like (seniors) Megan Haley, Sarah Crommett and Amelia Gallay and (junior) Sophia Siddall don’t often get much of the credit this time of year, but any coach will tell you how important a strong bench is.”
Yarmouth and top-ranked Bucksport (12-3) didn’t meet this year. They square off Saturday at high noon at Ellsworth High School. The Clippers enter the final match confident.
“We knew going into the season that the growth of volleyball statewide and our resulting move to Class B gave us an opportunity to do something very special this year,” Senecal said. “There’s a real feeling of confidence that we can accomplish the team goal we set early in the season. We’re all playing for something bigger than ourselves, which has solidified us as a team.”
Every year from 2002 through 2009, Greely played for the volleyball state title and the Rangers won it seven straight times beginning in 2003. After falling to eventual champion Biddeford in the semifinals a year ago, Greely returned to form this fall, winning all 14 regular season matches to earn the top seed in Class A.
Falmouth, which lost in the state match to Greely in 2009 and to Biddeford a year ago, went 9-5 in the regular season, good for the No. 5 seed, then avenged last year’s setback with a 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 20-25, 25-23) semifinal round win at Biddeford.
Saturday night, the Yachtsmen had a great chance to win the first game, leading 11-6 after an 8-0 run. The Rangers answered with a 9-0 run and with the game on the line, Greely got the final two points to win, 26-24. The Rangers then closed it out, 25-16, 25-12.
“Everyone was nervous coming into this,” said Greely senior standout Maggie Bradley. “This was the last one before states and we really wanted to get there. One of our best aspects of this game was that our passing was really on. Our setters were totally on. The hitters were great. We moved the ball around. We blocked well today. We had a presence at the net.”
Falmouth’s season ended at 10-6.
“The girls never gave up,” Yachtsmen coach Gary Powers said. “They battled hard all the way through. It was a good match.”
Falmouth will be hurt by graduation, but several varsity players return as the team looks to get back to states in 2012.
“I have six seniors, but we have some kids coming up,” Powers said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Greely turns its attention to the state final Saturday at 5 p.m., at Windham High School.
Scarborough (14-2) will be making its first ever appearance in a state match. The teams played a pair of close matches in the regular season, but the Rangers took both, 3-1 (25-20, 28-26, 13-25, 25-19) at Scarborough, and 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 23-25, 25-20) at home.
Greely knows winning its eighth title won’t come without a struggle, but the Rangers are up for the challenge.
“Scarborough’s going to be tough,” Greely coach Kelvin Hasch said. “They want to beat us the first game. We’ll be ready. We’ll see what happens. I’m looking forward to playing them again. I think we’ve improved since we played them last time. We’re going to be hard to beat.”
Greely sophomore Jordynne Copp goes up for a kill while Falmouth junior Danielle Li attempts to block the shot during the teams’ Class A semifinal Saturday night. The Rangers advanced to the state championship match with a 3-0 victory.