October 2, 2013

Volleyball Notebook: Falmouth poised to take that final step to a state title

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Falmouth volleyball team might be positioned for its best season with size, convincing play and an undefeated streak.

click image to enlarge

Maddy Maierhofer

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Maddy Maierhofer, Yarmouth senior libero: Had 32 digs and four aces in the 3-1 win over Machias on Sept. 28 to help put the Clippers atop the Class B rankings with a 6-1 record, giving them hope for their second state title in three years.

HONORABLE MENTION

Lauren Piper, Scarborough senior setter: Came up big in a Sept. 18 win against Biddeford with key kills and serves to help Scarborough to the 3-0 win.

Mary Cleary, Scarborough senior outside hitter: Helped Scarborough top defending state champion Greely on Sept. 12, the Red Storm's first-ever victory against the Rangers. She led the team with 17 kills, two solo blocks and six digs. She also had five kills playing limited minutes in the Red Storm's 3-0 win over South Portland on Sept. 27.

Riley Burfeind, Falmouth senior hitter: Had 16 service points, two aces and 12 kills in Falmouth's 3-1 win over Biddeford on Sept. 17.

Coach Gary Powers said players are working on weaknesses they share as a team, but there are no weak players on this year's 5-0 squad.

After taking second in the state in Class A in 2009 and 2010, and making it to the state semifinals each of the past two years, the Yachtsmen are positioning themselves to make a run at a state title.

Junior middle hitter Ally Hickey was blocking well last year, but Powers said she is now blocking and hitting well.

And when the Yachtsmen's setter decided to go abroad, Megan Tammaro stepped in to play a new position and now owns it, Powers said.

"Setting is one of the hardest positions to play, and to come in as a junior and take off with it and run the team, she is doing a fantastic job," Powers said.

Then there is middle hitter Julia Treadwell, who is starting as a sophomore. Powers said her inexperience doesn't show.

"We don't have a weak spot. We have six solid players and two more to come off the bench and fill in," Powers said.

The other thing Falmouth has going for it is size: Five players stand 5-foot-11 or taller. That height intimidates other teams and gives the Yachtsmen huge confidence, Powers said.

"Last year we were a really good blocking team and that is continuing this season," he said.

Powers said the Yachtsmen's toughest games are ahead, starting Saturday against 5-1 Greely followed by 7-0 Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH HAD a historic win Sept. 12 with its 3-1 victory against Greely, the defending state champion and winner of nine state titles in 12 years. So Tuesday's rematch would be a big indicator of just how strong the Red Storm are this year.

But even before the big match, Coach Jon Roberts said his 7-0 squad is better than he expected.

"I knew that we'd be good since we return almost everyone from last year. But the thing I'm most excited about is our defensive play. They are passing better than I expected," Roberts said.

Roberts said that without a doubt, part of the Red Storm's dominance this season is due to outside hitter Mary Cleary. After playing behind Gatorade Player of the Year Brittany Bona as a sophomore, Cleary has come into her own this year. Now she plays with extraordinary confidence, Roberts said.

Cleary helped in the win over Greely with 17 kills and six digs. She had 42 kills in seven games going into Tuesday's game with Greely.

"I haven't seen a better player in terms of someone who plays the whole court, who is scoring on a jump serve, is hitting really well. When people think of our team now, I think they think of her. I knew it was in her but she was always under the shadow of Brittany, and all last year fans were yelling, 'You're not Bona.' That got under her skin. This year she has embraced the player she is."

THE DEFENDING Class A champions have suffered a few injuries the past few weeks.

After Greely's defensive specialist Krystyna Rybka suffered a concussion in a game on Sept. 19, Michaela Weeks took over in the back row. But then Weeks was in a car accident Monday that sidelined her with a possible concussion.

Greely Coach Kelvin Hasch said he's not certain who will take their place in the backcourt against Scarborough, but isn't worried about the rest of the season.

The fact there are three other teams that are undefeated or have just one loss is a sign of good things to come in Hasch's estimation.

"It's what we've been working for now for 10 years, to get top-level competition across the board. This year there are four to five teams right there. Cape (Elizabeth) has one loss; Falmouth hasn't been beaten; Scarborough has not. That's good competition walking in the door. That's fun," Hasch said.

AFTER JUMPING to a 6-1 start this season, Yarmouth has a second Class B state title in its sights.

The Clippers recorded a big 3-0 win over the league's No. 1 seed and the defending Class B state champion, Washington Academy. Then they beat the team that knocked them out of the quarterfinals last year: Machias.

"We were able to win two very hard-fought matches by identical scores of 3-1, which pushed us ahead of (Washington Academy) for now and into first place in the Heal point standings," Yarmouth Coach Jim Senecal said.

The Clippers' setter Grace Mallett has a 96 percent serving percentage, Senecal said, and leads the team in aces and service points.

"She's not just getting her serves over but also is serving aggressively," he said.

And defensive specialist Maddy Maierhofer has become known for "getting to everything," Senecal said.

"She covers the floor, and can pass and dig better than anyone I've seen in Class B. She's also our emotional leader who plays the game with a fire and intensity level that's contagious."

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

dfleming@pressherald.com

Twitter: Flemingpph

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