CAPE ELIZABETH—Last year, Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team neared the stratosphere.

This fall, the Capers might just be primed to take the final step.

Monday evening, Cape Elizabeth welcomed a Scarborough team it had never beaten and never really even threatened, but the times have changed.

The Capers started strong, winning the first set, 25-14, but the Red Storm came back and took the second with ease, 25-11. When the serving of junior Tess Haller led to a 25-13 win in the third game, Cape Elizabeth was close to closing out the match, but Scarborough rolled in the fourth set, 25-11.

Suddenly, the Capers were on the ropes, without momentum and had the weight of history holding them down.

Last year, they put scares into perennial powerhouse Greely and eventual state champion Falmouth, but couldn’t get the job done in the fifth game.


The program’s hope of taking the next step hinged on not letting this one get away and Cape Elizabeth wouldn’t disappoint its home crowd.

The Capers opened up a lead, but the Red Storm came back to tie, 13-13. With 15 points needed to win the set and the match, the next point would be crucial and senior captain Monica Dell’Aquila produced the kill of her life, which barely landed inbounds. Haller, fittingly, then closed it out with a kill and Cape Elizabeth had the biggest regular season win in program history, 3-2.

The Capers improved to 7-2, won their fourth match in a row and dropped Scarborough to 8-3.

Last year, we lost two tough five set matches and we were two points from the state final,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Sarah Boeckel. “It’s such a mental game and that’s something we’ve struggled with this season, finishing matches. We did it today. The girls left it all on the court.”

At last

Both Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough were expected to be contenders for the Class A championship this fall and as we near the end of the regular season, both can stake their claim.

The Capers, coming off their best-ever season, which ended in an agonizing five-set decision to Falmouth in the Class A semifinals, have had to deal with graduation losses and time on the road due to the replacement of their home court.


After opening with a 3-0 win at South Portland, Cape Elizabeth lost at Greely by the same margin. A 3-0 win at Cony and a 3-1 triumph at Cheverus were followed by a 3-0 loss at Falmouth. The Capers then blanked visiting Windham, won at home over Biddeford in four sets and beat visiting Thornton Academy, 3-0.

Scarborough also had questions to answer this fall, as only one veteran returned, but the Red Storm have remained a premier program.

After starting with a 3-0 home victory over Gorham and a 3-0 triumph at Cheverus, Scarborough rallied from two sets down to stun Falmouth in a state game revenge match, 3-2. After a 3-1 triumph at Ellsworth, the Red Storm lost, 3-0, at Mt. Desert Island, then bounced back to blank visiting Windham and Kennebunk. The win streak ended with a frustrating 3-2 home loss to Greely, but Scarborough bounced back to blank host Lake Region and visiting South Portland.

Entering Monday night, since Cape Elizabeth began its varsity program in 2008, the teams had met seven times and the Red Storm won every match, with the Capers winning only one set total in the seven matches (see sidebar, below). The teams didn’t meet last year, however, when Cape Elizabeth emerged as a top contender.

Monday, Scarborough hoped to stay perfect all-time against the Capers, but when push came to shove, Cape Elizabeth proved it had heart to go with talent as it enjoyed a statement win.

The Capers came out hot and made a quick statement as the serving of Haller led to a 25-14 first set triumph.


The Red Storm quickly ended all doubt in the second game, rolling to an 18-6 lead. Cape Elizabeth crept back to 20-11, but a kill from senior Kayla Savage sparked Scarborough’s closing push which produced a 25-11 win after a Caper hit the ball into the net.

When the Red Storm won the first three points of the third set, it looked like the hosts were in trouble, but an ace from freshman Maggie Dadmun and kills from junior Monika Scheindel and junior Katie Connelly tied the score. Scarborough went back on top, 8-5, behind a kill from Savage and strong service from junior Emily Hanson.

Cape Elizabeth then went on a 20-5 run.

After Scheindel had a kill, Haller took over behind the service line, producing aces on five of eight serves for a 14-8 lead.

On Friday against Thornton, my serving was really bad,” Haller said. “I missed all of them. I worked really hard tonight to get them in. I knew if I got them in the right spots, it would really help the team and get our spirit going.”

Tess has been a little tight on the serve lately, but she’s so good and so athletic,” Boeckel said. “She’s not afraid to swing. That’s what you need.”


The Red Storm got as close as 16-11 on a kill from senior Emma Tirrell, but the Capers went on a 5-0 run, featuring a pair of Connelly aces and a Dell’Aquila kill. After Scarborough pulled within 21-12, junior Maddie Bowe had a block, Haller had a kill, junior Lydia Brenneman delivered an ace and after the Red Storm stayed alive with a point, Haller capped the 25-13 set win with a kill.

Scarborough wasn’t about to go quietly in game four and never trailed.

Kills from Savage and sophomore Jordyn Cowan and an ace from Hanson spelled a quick 5-1 lead. Savage and Tirrell then had kills for a 9-3 advantage. Up, 11-4, Savage served a ball that hit the top of the net, then dropped over, reinforcing that it would be the Red Storm’s set. Cape Elizabeth drew as close as 12-7 on a kill from Dell’Aquila, but Scarborough won the next five points, capped by a kill from senior Mina Puig. A kill from Savage helped open up a 22-9 lead and a block from senior Lindsay Thurston brought the curtain down on the 25-11 triumph.

Suddenly, the Capers were at a crossroads.

While the Red Storm had the momentum, Cape Elizabeth remained calm.

We didn’t want to defeat ourselves,” said Dell’Aquila. “We had a lot of unforced errors. We knew they weren’t going to give us a win, so we had to push ourselves.”


I just told them to take a deep breath and to leave everything they had on the court,” Boeckel said.

The Capers won the first point, but a kill from senior Krissy Maloney drew Scarborough even and an ace from Puig gave the Red Storm a 2-1 lead. A Haller kill and an ace from Dadmun put Cape Elizabeth back on top, but a kill from Savage tied the score and Scarborough won the next point as well, but just before it could open up a lead, a service fault made it 4-4.

The Capers then won four straight points, highlighted by kills from Connelly and Dell’Aquila, to earn a little breathing room.

Red Storm coach Jon Roberts called timeout and his team earned a point, ending Dell’Aquila’s run of four straight service points, then got within 8-7 on an ace from Cowan. Cape Elizabeth kept fighting, however, and after winning a point, Bowe had a kill and Haller delivered her final service point for an 11-7 lead.

But Scarborough refused to quit and won consecutive points, with the second coming on an ace from Savage, forcing Boeckel to call timeout.

It worked, as Connelly had a kill, but a Capers’ service fault, followed by an ace from senior Maddi Leadley, pulled the Red Storm within 12-11. A Scarborough service fault then put Cape Elizabeth two points from victory, but Tirrell had successive kills and just like that, the Red Storm were even, 13-13.


That set up the most crucial point of the match, which would come down to Dell’Aquila soaring for a kill. Off her hand, however, it looked like the shot would go long and out of bounds, but she placed it perfectly, just inside the end line and the Capers had the 14-13 advantage.

I thought it was going long,” Dell’Aquila said. “I thought I ruined it. It was a relief when it went in.”

The Capers still needed a point to close out the match and Scarborough didn’t make it easy, twice keeping the ball alive, but ultimately it came to Haller at the net and she wouldn’t be denied, pounding it to the floor to close it out.

I jumped on accident, but then (the ball) was right there and I just had to end it,” said Haller, who proved her chops in the clutch back in June with an epic walk-off home run in the Western B softball semifinals. “It means a lot. We’ve worked so hard. We lost a lot of seniors and we’re a really new team. We kept our heads in it. We really wanted it.”

“We fought really hard,” Dell’Aquila said. “We started off this year really unsure, but once we got past Biddeford, we realized we are a team to beat. We just want to show it.”

“I was talking to my assistant (when it was tied) and said, ‘Oh, I’ve been here before,’ but the girls did it,” added Boeckel. “I’m so proud. We’re a young team. We played well, but it really came down to who made the least amount of mistakes in the fifth game. I couldn’t be more proud of my team and the fight they showed. This is so good for the girls and it’s huge for Cape volleyball. Last year, we grew some momentum and people were aware that they couldn’t come in and expect to beat us in this gym anymore and I think this win really proves that. These are the matches that make all the hard work and coaching so much fun.”


Boeckel made a point of praising her opponent.

“Scarborough fights,” Boeckel said. “They don’t give you anything. Jon Roberts does an amazing job with that team. They fight for every ball and point.”

Statistically, Dadmun had 29 assists and seven digs, Dell’Aquila finished with 20 digs and eight kills, Connelly had a dozen digs and 10 kills and Haller added nine aces, eight kills and a pair of blocks.

Scarborough suffered its second five-set loss in a week and Roberts was left shaking his head.

“We play great when there’s nothing on the line,” Roberts said. “When we’re on, we’re great. When we’re frazzled, we make mistakes. We had a chance. Same thing as Greely. Cape played great.”

Title chase


Scarborough (third in the Class A Heal Points standings) hopes to quickly bounce back, as it hosts Biddeford Tuesday. After playing at Thornton Academy Oct. 14, the Red Storm finish at home versus Falmouth Oct. 16.

Biddeford is a big test,” Roberts said. “Everything is getting tight. Even Greely has some weaknesses. It’s very wide open.”

Cape Elizabeth (now fourth in Class A) is also back in action Tuesday, when it goes to North Yarmouth Academy. The Capers play at Gorham Thursday, then close with home matches versus Kennebunk, Greely and Lake Region.

Cape Elizabeth won’t rest on its laurels.

It still has bigger goals.

This shows that we’re a team that can compete with other top teams,” Dell’Aquila said. “I think teams should be more scared of us.”


I think we can definitely finish the job,” Haller said. “We have our momentum up. We play so well when we play like this.”

It’s more wide open than last year and more wide open than ever,” Boeckel added. “Greely’s going to be our next big test. We played them well the first time. If games ended at 17, we would have won. We get another shot at them, which is great.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Scarborough sophomore Jordyn Cowan (18) and senior Kayla Savage rise up to block a shot at the net.

Cape Elizabeth senior captain Monica Dell’Aquila rises up for a kill.

Cape Elizabeth junior Tess Haller prepares to serve. Haller had nine aces in the win.

Scarborough junior Emily Hanson stops a shot.


Scarborough senior Krissy Maloney has a shot blocked by Cape Elizabeth junior Maddie Bowe.

Cape Elizabeth junior Monika Scheindel goes up for a kill.

Scarborough sophomore Caroline Goodwin (3) and her teammates celebrate after winning a point.

Previous Scarborough-Cape Elizabeth results

Scarborough 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

@ Scarborough 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Scarborough 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

Scarborough 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Scarborough 3 Cape Elizabeth 0


Scarborough 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

Scarborough 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

Sidebar Elements

Cape Elizabeth junior Katie Connelly exults after the Capers win a point during Monday’s five-set home win over Scarborough. The Capers beat the Red Storm for the first time and continued their recent surge.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

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