For the past decade one team has been in the high school state volleyball final nine times and been able to win it eight times.
But the tide is most definitely starting to shift for Maine high school volleyball.
As the state quarterfinals approach Saturday, the two perennial favorites are ranked just third and fifth in the final Heal point standings, with Mt. Desert Island holding an 11-3 record and Greely sitting fifth with a 10-4 mark.
These are the teams that have met in the state final five of the past 10 years.
But this year they trail two new favorites – Scarborough and Falmouth – and are being chased by a bunch of other contenders.
“This is probably the deepest tournament we’ve ever had as far as teams that are able to win (a title),” said Falmouth Coach Gary Powers, whose team is seeded second.
“If you were one of the top two teams in the past, you could coast into the semifinals. I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
This year, Powers said Falmouth has to worry about top-ranked Scarborough and No. 3 Mt. Desert Island, as well as No. 4 Ellsworth, No. 5 Greely, No. 6 Cape Elizabeth and Biddeford, which is ranked seventh.
Meanwhile, Scarborough (14-0) is looking forward to being at home for some playoff games, but a state title will be hard-fought, said Jon Roberts, a fourth-year coach.
The playoffs could be riddled with upsets, he said.
“Greely is a much lower seed than they should be. I don’t understand the Heal points. They only lost to us and Falmouth, so I don’t understand why they’re not third,” Roberts said.
“As far as I’m concerned, they are still the team to beat, because they win it every year and they think they are going to win it, and they tend to do that.”
Then there is Cape Elizabeth, a team in the past that often had a losing record but one that’s turning heads this year, with a 12-2 record and sixth-place ranking.
The Capers’ first-year coach, Sarah Boeckel, said just working hard focusing on fundamentals and gaining confidence has gone a long way.
“We’re not a team that cranks the ball and has the big kills. We’ll get that but that’s not what will win big matches for us,” Boeckel said.
“My biggest goal from Day 1 of the season is helping them know they can win.
Cape Elizabeth has to travel to Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor on Saturday for its quarterfinal playoff match, but Boeckel said that if they win in a gym three hours from home, her team will feel anything is possible.
“We’re excited to be where we are. We’re in the hunt. I feel confident we can go very far in the playoffs,” Boeckel said.
YARMOUTH CLOSED out out the regular season well positioned to make a run at its second Class B state title.
This season Yarmouth (13-1) topped a number of Class A teams, including No. 6 Cape Elizabeth, No. 10-ranked Cheverus and No. 9-ranked Kennebunk.
Trailing Yarmouth in the Heal point standings is Washington Academy, with a 10-4 record; and Machias, which has an 11-3 mark.
“Last year we were the No. 4 seed and Machias came down and beat us. This year all those girls who were juniors are now seniors and they all remember that,” Yarmouth Coach Jim Senecal said.
“We came in this year much stronger. We started talking about winning another state title right after the Machias loss (last year).”
Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: