BANGOR – Before the Class A volleyball state championship match Saturday night, Kelvin Hasch had a very simple message for his five Greely High seniors: “This is your night to shine. Now go out and do it.”

So they did.

The Rangers got exceptional play from their seniors in winning their second consecutive state championship, and ninth in 10 years, by beating top-ranked and previously unbeaten Biddeford in four sets, 25-17, 22-25, 25-16, 25-7, at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson University.

“They came to play,” said Hasch of his team, and especially his seniors — Katie Ventre, Haleigh Roach, Dani Cimino, Kristen Atwood and Delany Nolin.

The victory was very emotional for the Rangers, whose longtime assistant coach, Bruce Churchill, passed away last July after a five-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig Disease.

“We had to win this for Church,” said Roach, whose kills from the right side in the first set got the Rangers going. “He was one of the main reasons we wanted to win the Gold Ball. We needed to do it.”

The Rangers, who finished at 15-2 with both regular-season losses to Biddeford, were at the top of their game on Saturday.

Biddeford, which finished 16-1, couldn’t overcome the loss of senior setter Mariah Hebert.

She suffered what Coach Ruth Shaw said was a concussion when she collided with a teammate in the second set, had the ball hit her face and then slammed face-first into the court.

After staying on the court for about 10 minutes, she left for the locker room, returning later to cheer from the bench.

While the Tigers, who were visibly upset by her injury (as were several Greely players), pulled together to win the second set — it was 14-14 when she was injured and Biddeford outscored Greely 11-8 the rest of the way — Biddeford couldn’t overcome her absence in the final two sets. Without her to set up the middle hitters or Katelyn Lebreux on the outside, Biddeford had to play a defensive style.

And the Rangers regrouped to seize the championship.

“I told the girls we had a match to play,” said Hasch.

“And we couldn’t worry about what was happening with their team.”

Roach, Ventre, Atwood, Jordynne Copp and Lauren Weickert dominated the play at the net, both defensively with blocks and offensively with kill shots.

The Tigers were tentative throughout, even when Hebert was in, and were not able to string any points together.

“We were tentative at the start,” said Shaw. “I thought we started to come out of it in the second set, then we lost Mariah. We were just starting to get it when she got hurt.

“But give Greely credit. They changed their offense to a weakside shot and we tried to adjust to it. They’re a very resilient program. You don’t come to this thing so many times and not be ready to play in it.”

Biddeford fought to stay close in the third set but couldn’t overcome a nice service run by Krystyna Rybka, who took the Rangers from a 2-2 tie into an 11-2 lead.

Then in the fourth set, Hasch substituted Nolin for Atwood to serve, and all she did was serve up 11 consecutive points. Weickert finished the championship off with a kill from the middle of the court.

“We came out here and it was time to put everything out there,” said Ventre.’ We had been playing well enough to win, but we needed to do more.

“Tonight we played with our heart.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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