With the sport enjoying a growth cycle, it will take added skill to prevail in the state finals.
With two Class A volleyball teams going for their first state title, Saturday’s state championship matches at Windham High offer more signs that the sport is growing in Maine.
And as Yarmouth goes for its second Class B championship in three years, Coach Jim Senecal said the level of play in the smaller-school division has never been stronger, another sign of growth.
“Class B is deeper than two years ago,” said Senecal, whose Clippers topped Bucksport to win the title in 2011. “The top four to five teams are much better. Washington Academy held first place in the Heal point standings for most of the season. . . . They have talent and they have depth.”
In Class A, top-ranked Scarborough (16-0) faces No. 2 Falmouth (14-2) at 10 a.m.
The Class B final will be a 1 p.m. contest between top-ranked Yarmouth (14-1) and No. 2 Washington Academy (11-4).
Washington Academy, the defending state champion, lost to Yarmouth 3-1 during the regular season, but Senecal said it was a close match.
“They came back in Game 2 and took it to us. They have a lot of the same kids back from last year’s team. They want to win it again,” Senecal said.
The Raiders have a senior-laden team led by captains Kassidy Seeley, who has 93 kills this season, and Kaitlyn Carl, who has 71.
Yarmouth still has senior setter Grace Mallett from its 2011 championship team. Senecal calls her a vocal and top-performing team leader.
Mallett has 228 assists this season.
“Yesterday in practice she called everyone together and talked about how she felt in 2011,” Senecal said. “She said there were a lot of seniors then, and they just played relaxed and played together. That was her message. She said, ‘That’s all we need to do, is play our game, relax, and if we do that we’ll be successful.’”
THE CLASS A match will pit the undefeated Red Storm against a Falmouth team that has shown its mettle in close matches.
The Yachtsmen topped Cape Elizabeth 3-2 in the semifinals to make the state final for the second time. It was Falmouth’s fourth win this season in five-set matches, to go along with two five-set losses to Scarborough.
It also will be Scarborough’s second appearance in a state final. Coach Jon Roberts said he already considers the season a success.
“There were four solid, good teams in the semifinals. That’s the first time ever in the state of Maine,” said Roberts, whose team topped eight-time state champion Greely in four sets.
The Red Storm are led by senior outside hitter Mary Cleary, who has 106 kills.
But Falmouth has formidable height and a powerful corps of blockers.
“I think it will be a battle. But it’s great that the two best teams made it,” Roberts said.
Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: