Monday, March 10, 2014
From staff reports
Early in the season, Kelvin Hasch wasn't quite sure what to expect from his Greely High volleyball team. The Rangers, who have the state's best program, had some young, untested players stepping into key roles, and Greely lost twice in September -- both times to top-ranked Biddeford.
Nick Volger and fellow Portland running back Justin Zukowski played key roles Saturday in a 35-21 playoff victory over Windham.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Greely quarterback Drew Hodge tries to unleash a pass as Drew Shelley of Wells closes in during Friday’s Western Class B quarterfinal in Cumberland. Wells pulled out a 9-7 win.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
The players, Hasch said at the time, needed to mature.
Well, the Rangers certainly did, winning their second consecutive Class A state championship Saturday night -- and ninth in 10 years -- by beating previously undefeated Biddeford in four sets, 25-17, 22-25, 25-16, 25-7.
"I think they grew up at the right time," said Hasch after his team's 11th consecutive win. "I think this just speaks highly of our program. We work hard, inside the gym every single day, for two hours. They work just as hard every day as they did tonight."
The Rangers also had an emotional edge. Longtime assistant coach Bruce Churchill died in July after a five-year battle with ALS. The players dedicated themselves to winning another championship in his memory.
"It was always in the back of my mind, 'If Church was here, what would he say?' " said Katie Ventre, one of five Greely seniors. "He would say, 'Keep your head in the game.'
"And so, the entire time we felt that he was watching us."
BIDDEFORD, MEANWHILE, suffered a huge emotional letdown when senior setter Mariah Hebert was injured in the second set. She and a teammate collided while chasing down a ball, which bounced up and hit her in the face. She then landed face-first on the floor and suffered a concussion.
Ruth Shaw, Biddeford's coach, said Hebert was checked out at Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford when the team returned home. She is scheduled to have a follow-up exam Monday.
"She's going to be fine," said Shaw.
The Tigers, who were undefeated going into the championship match, were not the same without her. While they went on to win the second set, they were unable to overcome Hebert's absence and replace her abililty to set up other players.
"It was tough," said Shaw. "But that's the way it is sometimes. The girls should be proud of what they accomplished this year."
While Hebert was being attended to by the Tigers' trainer, several Biddeford players had tears in their eyes. And it wasn't just them. Greely's players were affected as well.
"It was difficult for us because many of the girls are very good friends," said Hasch. "It was tough for us as well.
"I hope she recovers fully."
NICE TOUCH by Hasch in the fourth -- and decisive -- set. With Greely leading 8-3, Hasch called on senior reserve Delany Nolin to step in and serve for Kristen Atwood. All she did was serve up 11 consecutive points.
"I had walked down the bench and asked the girls, 'Who can serve?' " said Hasch. "Delany said, 'I can do it.' So I put her in. It's her last game, I was glad she stepped up like she did."
ONE OF THE BIG reasons why Cape Elizabeth won the Class B boys' state championship Saturday in Belfast was the emergence of junior Will Britton, who spent the previous three autumns pursuing a different activity -- skateboarding.
"I just stopped running in seventh grade," said Britton, who placed 21st overall, and third on his team. "I don't know why."
What brought Britton back was a mile training run during practice with the Cape Elizabeth tennis team last spring. Circling the track, he had something of an epiphany.
"I really like running," he said about his moment of inspiration. "I want to do this again."
(Continued on page 2)
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Caitlin Bucksbaum of Falmouth tries to move forward with the ball as Maria Valente of Gray-New Gloucester plays tight defense during a Western Class B semifinal. Falmouth won, 2-1, and will play No. 1 Morse for the regional title.
Derek Davis/Staff Photographer
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Matthew Fortier of Winslow takes down Yarmouth’s Race Morrison, during the Black Raiders’ 50-22 win in the Western C quarterfinals.
Michael Seamans/Morning Sentinel
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Nick Smelcer of Lincoln Academy leads the pack early in the Class B boys’ cross country championship race Saturday in Belfast. Dan Curts (336) of Ellsworth won the race, edging two-time champ Silas Eastman (367) of Fryeburg Academy by four-tenths of a second.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer