BIDDEFORD — It only seemed fitting that if Cape Elizabeth was going to win its first volleyball state championship Saturday, the Capers would do so in come-from-behind fashion.

Continuing their pattern throughout the Class A playoffs, the fifth-ranked Capers fell behind against defending state champion Falmouth, then fought back from a two-game deficit and stunned the third-ranked Yachtsmen.

Cape Elizabeth (15-2) won the third and fourth games by identical 25-22 scores, then took the tiebreaker, 15-8.

The Yachtsmen (13-4), who won their first state title last year, won the first two games, 25-20 and 25-18.

It was a remarkable finish for Cape’s 8-year-old varsity program. The Capers also erased a 2-0 deficit and saved three match points against top-ranked Greely in the semifinals, and rallied from a 2-1 deficit against Scarborough in the quarterfinals.

Coach Sarah Boeckel said her team has matured into a squad that doesn’t give up on themselves or each other.

“I credit the girls with staying in it. They are not used to playing in a state final. And it was do-or-die. That adds a bit more pressure,” said Boeckel.

A disputed out-of-rotation call against Cape Elizabeth delayed the first game for several minutes before Falmouth closed out the game with four straight points.

“There were a lot of bad calls. They were not out of rotation,” said Falmouth Coach Gary Powers. “The officials are supposed to let the game go, not stop it. But it’s something you have to play through.

“I think at the end Cape got in our heads, and that was the deciding factor in the (match).”

What helped turn the tide for the Capers was the powerful and clever hitting of junior Tess Haller, who had eight kills in the last two games.

“Tess was huge. And she’s smart. Even when they had two blocking her, she still had kills,” Boeckel said. “But without our passing, we couldn’t get Tess the ball. Without our freshman setter (Maggie Dadmun) running the court, we couldn’t get Tess the ball. We have six girls on the court, and without all of them playing with confidence, we couldn’t have won.”

Haller said she had friends from other teams in the stands signaling to her where on the court to place the ball, based on where the Falmouth players were leaving gaps.

“They’re tall, but I had friends telling me smart places to tip the ball,” Haller said. “Coach was telling me not to crank it, because they’re great at blocking – to just be smart about where I put it.”

A kill by senior captain Monica Dell’Aquila helped the Capers take the lead early in the third game, and never let it go, aided by seven service points and an ace from Dadmun.

In the fourth game, junior libero Lydia Brenneman came up huge for Cape, winning eight service points in a row for an 18-12 lead.

Falmouth senior setter Callie McMahon pulled the Yachtsmen within one, but two Haller kills and one by Dell’Aquila enabled the Capers to tie the match.

Junior outside hitter Katie Connelly helped keep Cape take control in the tiebreaker, winning six service points in a row to make it 8-2.

“It was a hard road we took to get here. We met No. 1 Greely in their gym, with all their storied success, then we came in here and played the defending state champions,” Boeckel said. “These girls are great athletes. They’re just an amazing team.”

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at:

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Twitter: FlemingPph