Yarmouth’s volleyball team celebrates Thursday’s 3-1 win at Cape Elizabeth.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

CAPE ELIZABETH—A year ago Alison Clark and her Yarmouth volleyball teammates saw their season come to an end at Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinal round of the Class A playoffs.

Thursday night, Clark, now a senior, and the 2016 Clippers made a return trip and enjoyed a much different result.

Yarmouth, just 48 hours removed from celebrating longtime coach Jim Senecal’s 100th victory with the program, made sure number 101 would follow as it easily won the first set, 25-10, and then took the second, 25-14, behind nine Clark kills.

When the Clippers built leads of 21-14 and 22-16 in the third game, it looked like the evening was going to come to a quick resolution, but the new-look Capers refused to buckle and behind an inspirational comeback which could pay dividends down the road, rallied to prevail, 25-23.

Yarmouth wasn’t about to give Cape Elizabeth hope of a dramatic comeback, however, and quickly seized back momentum in the fourth game, as senior Andrea St. Pierre, who momentarily left the match late in the third set after suffering an ankle injury, served up three straight aces to spark the Clippers to a 25-12 victory, which was fittingly capped by a Clark kill, and Yarmouth took the match, 3-1.

The Clippers improved to 9-2, beat the Capers for the first time since 2012, for the first time in Cape Elizabeth since 2010, and dropped the Capers to 6-5 in the process.

“Even when we had scores big, I was never comfortable and that’s a tribute to Cape,” Senecal said. “They’re such a scrappy team. They do whatever they can to keep the ball off the floor.”

Two contenders

Yarmouth started with 3-0 wins at home over Kennebunk, at Gardiner, at home over Wells and at Massabesic and Windham. After falling at home to Scarborough in four sets, Yarmouth blanked visiting Gorham. A 3-0 setback at undefeated Greely followed, but the Clippers beat host Cony in three games, then Tuesday swept South Portland for Senecal’s landmark victory.

Cape Elizabeth, the 2014 Class A champion and 2015 top playoff seed (the Capers were upset by eventual champion Scarborough in the semifinals) started with a three set loss at Falmouth. The Capers then held off Windham in five sets and swept South Portland, Thornton Academy and Marshwood before losing at Gorham in four sets and at home to Greely in three. Cape Elizabeth bounced back with 3-0 wins at Gardiner and York, but Tuesday, the Capers lost at home to Scarborough in a playoff rematch, 3-0.

Prior to Thursday’s match, the teams had played 10 times with Yarmouth taking the first seven and Cape Elizabeth the past three (see sidebar, below). Last fall, the Capers closed the regular season with a 3-1 win at Yarmouth, then eliminated the Clippers in straight sets in the playoffs.

This time, Yarmouth turned the tide.

The Clippers jumped out fast in the first set, leading, 4-1, 9-4, 13-5, 18-6 and 20-9 before St. Pierre served consecutive aces. After the teams traded service faults, Yarmouth senior Sydney St. Pierre served out the set, as Cape Elizabeth hit the ball into the net to end it, 25-10.

The second game was highlighted by the passing of sophomore setter Dominique Moran and the power of Clark.

A pair of Clark kills sandwiched around an ace from senior Rachel Chillé made it 3-0 and Sydney St. Pierre served the lead out to 9-2. After Capers coach Sarah Boeckel called timeout with her team down, 11-3, the hosts got as close as 16-9, but Clark had successive kills and two more points made it 20-9. After Cape Elizabeth got four straight points, Clark ended the run with a kill and after sophomore Marie LeBlanc had a kill for the Clippers, Clark added another for a 23-13 lead. Sophomore Megan Connolly had a kill for the Capers, but a service fault put Yarmouth on the brink and a Chillé kill closed out the 25-14 second game.

In that set alone, Clark had nine kills and four service points and Moran added 13 assists. Sydney St. Pierre had five services points, while Andrea St. Pierre added four.

Cape Elizabeth started and ended the third set on fire, but in between, the Clippers appeared en route to a decisive victory.

A block from junior Anna Torre got the Capers started and after a pair of Clark kills, the teams were tied, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 7-7, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12 before a Clark kill gave Yarmouth the lead. A pair of strong serves, including an ace, from Andrea St. Pierre made it 15-12 and the Clippers soon pushed their advantage to 19-13. When Clark served an ace to make it 21-14, Yarmouth wasn’t far from victory and while Cape Elizabeth got a kill from junior Madison Sarka and an ace from Connelly, the Clippers got the next point to creep within three points of ending the match.

And then, the Capers came alive and showed their potential.

After a Yarmouth service fault gave the hosts life, they got seven straight service points from junior Madeline Bauman to rally. The run was highlighted by three straight kills from sophomore Bridget Heggie, the third of which tied the score, 22-22, and forced Senecal to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Torre had a kill to put Cape Elizabeth on top.

Making matters worse, on the play, Andrea St. Pierre stayed down on the floor with an ankle injury and had to be helped off. She would miss the next three points.

Bauman served up one more point to make it 24-22 Capers, but she then faulted, giving the Clippers life. Yarmouth returned the favor, however, with a fault of its own and Cape Elizabeth survived the third set, 25-23.

“When we started playing soft, they were the much better team,” Senecal said. “Once they got momentum, our kids got tense and they got loose.”

Bauman had seven service points and Heggie had three kills and two blocks in the comeback.

The Clippers got five more kills from Clark in the third set, but weren’t quite able to finish it off.

Yarmouth would rebound and close out the match in the fourth game.

A kill from Connelly gave the Capers a good start, but after the Clippers got the next point, Andrea St. Pierre, who returned to action at the start of the set, stepped to the service line and promptly produced three consecutive aces.

“I stepped on Alison’s foot when I went to pass and unfortunately rolled my ankle, but I wanted to go back in whether I was hurt or not to help my team win,” St. Pierre said. “After that momentum shift, they had everything going for them. We had to come out strong, serve our hardest and be as aggressive as we could.”

“That was scary to see her go down, but to see her come back with a smile on her face shows that she’s a great player,” Clark said. “Serving is a huge part of our game this year. We focus on serving so much in practice and it shows in games.”

“I talked to Andrea and she said she was fine,” Senecal added. “We know she’s a tough athlete. Her mother (Lisa) is our official scorer and her mother said, ‘Put her in, she’s fine.’ I was careful about it.”

Cape Elizabeth would battle back behind a kill from Connelly, a Connelly ace and a Heggie kill, but Yarmouth got the next point and went ahead to stay. A kill from Clark and consecutive aces from Sydney St. Pierre made it 10-4. Kills from Clark and Chillé opened up a 14-5 lead. While Sarka tried to keep the Capers alive with a pair of kills, it didn’t help as Chillé had a kill, then served up two straight aces and the Clippers led, 21-9. Cape Elizabeth got back to 22-12 on a kill from Connelly, but Clark said enough is enough and on three straight points, she brought the hammer down with kills, the final one producing a 25-12 victory which gave Yarmouth the match, 3-1.

“We remembered losing playoffs in this gym last year,” Clark said. “We used that loss to our advantage. We wanted to win tonight so badly. This was extremely important for Heal Points. We’re focusing on beating the better teams.”

“There was no great motivation from me,” Senecal said. “I didn’t do anything in the fourth game. (Cape) froze up a little bit and that helped. We got our lead up again and kept the pressure on.”

Clark had 22 kills as she remains one of the state’s finest hitters. She also had 12 service points.

“We’re meshing a lot better now than at the beginning of the year,” Clark said. “We’ve gotten so much better. Our setters have taken awhile but we’re at our best now. Dominique did a great job hustling and getting the ball set for me.”

“Alison is awesome,” Andrea St. Pierre said. “I get so excited when she hits it. She’s such a force at the net and helps us out so much.”

“Alison makes the setters look good,” Senecal added. “She reacts to everything. She can make it work. It’s a tribute to her and her approach to the hit, which is better than most kids’.”

Moran had 33 assists. Chillé finished with 10 service points and six kills. Sydney St. Pierre finished with 16 service points, including five aces, and Andrea St. Pierre had 12 service points, including five aces.

Cape Elizabeth got solid play throughout from Connelly and Heggie at the net, junior Maggie Dadmun passing and sophomore libero Tess Dolan, who was all over the floor.

Ultimately, it wasn’t quite enough.

“That third set was very encouraging,” Boeckel said. “I thought we’d play better right off the bat. Yarmouth’s a good team, but I think they’re very similar to us. I’m glad we didn’t roll over because we easily could have.”

Closing time

Both teams hope to win their remaining matches and move up in the standings.

Cape Elizabeth (11th in Class A) goes to Biddeford Tuesday, hosts Deering Oct. 15, then wraps up the regular season Oct. 18 at home versus Massabesic.

“We’re just not there yet, but it’s a great problem to have three freshmen and a starting sophomore middle,” said Boeckel. “The season isn’t a throwaway because I feel like we can do some really great things, but I think you’ll see a massive jump next year. We want to get in and rattle some cages a little bit. We do know how to play.”

Yarmouth (fifth in Class A) has a home showdown with Falmouth Tuesday, hosts Brunswick Thursday, then closes at Biddeford Oct. 18.

“Being in Class A for a second year, we’re picking up our pace,” Clark said. “We’ve said since the beginning of the season that anything can happen in playoffs and we’re looking forward to that. We have to work on our passing and rhythm. We’re still young, so we’re still working on confidence.”

“We’re communicating well,” said Andrea St. Pierre. “We just have to keep practicing fundamentals and I think we’ll do well. We can’t underestimate ourselves. I love this group.”

“It’s not our goal to finish third, but it would be nice,” Senecal added. “We could be in the top three, but we have a lot to prove still with Falmouth and Biddeford. I hope that Falmouth is everything I expect they will be because I think we’re two evenly matched teams. Biddeford’s having a great season. As the coach of this team, I think we’re third best, but we have to prove it and it won’t be easy.”

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

Yarmouth sophomore Alison Clark crushes one of her 22 kills past Cape Elizabeth sophomores Jessie Robicheaw (15) and Bridget Heggie.

Yarmouth sophomore Dominique Moran sets the ball. Moran had 33 assists on the night.

Yarmouth senior Rachel Chillé goes up for a kill as Cape Elizabeth sophomore Jessie Robicheaw (15) and junior Madison Sarka defend.

Yarmouth senior Breanna Taylor handles a shot.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Bridget Higgie registers a kill as Yarmouth sophomore Ceanne Lyon defends.

Yarmouth senior Andrea St. Pierre serves up an ace.

Previous Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth results

Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 1
Class A quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 0

Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 1

@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.