YARMOUTH — After sixth-seeded Wells took the third set and seized momentum in its Class B volleyball quarterfinal Saturday, third-seeded North Yarmouth Academy recognized the need to start strong in the fourth set.

The Panthers did just that, racing out to a 10-1 lead as they beat the Warriors 25-17, 25-22, 26-28, 25-14.

“I tell my kids all the time that if we can get the lead going early, then they’ll have a harder time catching up,” said NYA Coach Nora Krainis. “Getting a lead like that is what we’re always trying to do.

“Obviously, it doesn’t always work out like that, but it was so important today. It’s all about momentum, and after the third set they had it. If you can’t get the momentum going your way, you have to fight, and you end up playing a little bit out of control.”

With the win – the first ever quarterfinal victory for NYA – the Panthers (12-3) advance to a semifinal Wednesday against Washington Academy or Bucksport.

Wells, which qualified for the playoffs for the first time in only its second season as a varsity program, finished with an 8-7 record.

Throughout the match, the Panthers relied on strong play from the service line and at the net to keep Wells from getting into a rhythm.

Leading the way at the net were senior Zelda Clegg (five aces, seven kills, five blocks, five digs) and sophomore Sydney Plummer (three blocks). The duo wreaked havoc on potential kill attempts despite a height disadvantage to their counterparts across the net.

“They were both great on the net,” said Krainis. “We’ve been working on it all week – explosive jumping, going up with both hands and reading the other team to make sure our timing was right.”

Senior Suzanna Butterfield (16-for-20 serving, six aces, eight kills), who served for seven straight points in a furious comeback attempt in the third set and twice served for four straight points during the final set, helped pace an efficient service line attack for NYA.

Junior libero Tessa Quatrucci (24-for-27 serving, seven aces, 15 digs) and senior Jordan Ackerman (16-for-20 serving, seven aces, 11 digs) also had standout serving days.

“We practiced a lot this week about where to serve,” said Krainis. “We worked hard to put balls where teams statistically miss the receives. We really did practice it a lot, and we know when we’re serving well, we play well.”

Sophomore Maggie Larson impressively handled her role as setter, handing out 16 assists while coming up with 10 digs on defense.

“She’s the leader on the court,” said Krainis. “She call the plays and has to read the other side really well. She has to know where there might be weaknesses, and (she) figures out quickly if we should attack the outside, or middle or back row, or if we should tip it.

“Maggie is just spectacular, and has awareness of so much at once.

Alyssa Loukola led Wells with nine kills and five blocks, while Halee Ramsdell chipped in seven blocks and 13 digs. Alicia Bridges added 15 digs and Kait Schott dished out 25 assists.