Yarmouth junior Ceanne Lyon, who had a huge match, exults after her team wins a point during the Clippers’ 3-0 home win over Falmouth Thursday evening. Yarmouth beat Falmouth for the first time since 2010.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—When the top Class B volleyball contenders take the court against each other, you never really know what to expect.

Thursday evening, Yarmouth hosted Falmouth in a match that most expected to go five sets, if not four, but in their most impressive performance of the young season, the Clippers took care of business in just three games.

Yarmouth, playing without one of its top hitters, freshman Evelyn Lukis, roared out of the gate, rolling to a 25-10 first set victory behind strong play from juniors Skylar Bennett, Marie LeBlanc, Ceanne Lyon and Dominique Moran and freshmen Kaitlyn Bennett and Maggie Murray. 

The Clippers started fast in the second game too, but back roared the Yachtsmen, who were also short-handed, to lead, 21-15. Yarmouth saved its best for last, however, rallying to take a stranglehold on the match with a 26-24 victory.

Neither team led by more than three points in a hotly contested third set and again, Falmouth was close enough to taste victory when it led, 23-22, but again, it would be the Clippers finishing strong, winning, 26-24, on an ace from Moran, and capturing the match, 3-0.

Yarmouth beat the Yachtsmen for the first time in seven years, hit the midway point of the season at 6-1 and dropped Falmouth to 4-3 in the process.

“We both were missing top kids tonight,” said Clippers coach Jim Senecal. “We had our big middle hitter out and they had their big, strong hitter out and a few other kids. I told (Falmouth coach) Molly (Northway) that this was nice, but that is doesn’t really prove a thing. The way Class B is panning out, we’ll see them in the playoffs, hopefully in this gym.” 

A rarity

Last year, Falmouth came to Yarmouth, rallied to win the first set, then captured the next two to improve to 9-2 all-time in the series (see sidebar, below, for previous results). 

This fall, with both teams ensconced in a deep and balanced Class B, each squad has produced its share of triumph.

Falmouth opened with a key four-set home win over defending Class A champion Greely, then swept host Cony and Gardner. After a four-set loss at Scarborough, the Yachtsmen bounced back and handled visiting South Portland in four-sets. Tuesday, Falmouth dropped an intense, four-set home match to undefeated Cape Elizabeth.

Yarmouth won its first four matches by 3-0 scores, downing visiting York and Brunswick, host South Portland and visiting Greely, the defending Class A champion, for the first time. After a four-set loss at Cape Elizabeth in a battle of unbeatens, the Clippers got back on track Tuesday with a 3-0 win at Cony.

Thursday, the Yachtsmen hoped to beat Yarmouth for the fifth straight time, but instead, for the first time since Oct. 9, 2010, the Clippers got the better of their rival.

Yarmouth needed all of 17 minutes to roll to victory in a first set which saw it never trail or be tied.

Moran served the first point, then delivered an ace for a quick 2-0 lead. After Falmouth got the next point on a kill from senior Alston Armstrong, Murray had a kill and a block and Kaitlyn Bennett added a kill to make it 5-1. After another Armstrong kill, the Clippers countered with four straight points, featuring a block from Lyon, a kill from Bennett and a fortuitous bounce off its ceiling. The Yachtsmen got as close as 11-6, but a Lyon ace sparked a 4-0 run, forcing Northway to call timeout. 

It didn’t help, as Murray and LeBlanc both delivered kills and another point made it 18-6. A kill by Falmouth sophomore Holly Barney ended the 7-0 run, but LeBlanc had consecutive kills for a 20-7 advantage. The next point went to the visitors, but freshman Mayzie Mulkern had a block and a LeBlanc ace extended the lead to 23-10. After a service fault, the Yachtsmen hit the ball out, but they stayed alive on a kill by senior Danielle Casavant. That only delayed the inevitable, as a Lyon block ended the set, 25-10, in Yarmouth’s favor.

“We wanted it so badly and came out and played the best we could,” said Lyon.

” It surprised me that we caught them off guard,” said Senecal. “I haven’t seen our girls play that well. They came out loose and relaxed.”

Moran had nine assists, LeBlanc four service points and three kills and Lyon added six service points and four blocks in the first game.

As expected, the Yachtsmen returned to form in the second set, but the Clippers still found a way to prevail.

When Moran rattled off four straight service points to start the game, it appeared Yarmouth might be en route to another easy win, but Falmouth clawed its way back to tie it, 8-8, behind a pair of aces from junior Summer Spiegel. After a diving save by LeBlanc, Lyon’s kill put the Clippers back on top, but after a service fault, a kill by Yachtsmen senior Alison Noyes gave the visitors their first lead of the entire match. A Lyon block and an ace by Kaitlyn Bennett gave Yarmouth the lead back, but the next three points went to Falmouth. After the Clippers tied it, 13-13, a service fault, an ace from freshman Katie Phillips and another Phillips ace made it 16-13 Falmouth, forcing Senecal to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Phillips dialed up another ace and after the hosts got a point back on a kill from Moran, the next two points, capped by a Barney ace, made the score 19-14. The Yachtsmen would eventually go up, 21-15, but the next five points went to Yarmouth, as Murray had a kill and Skylar Bennett took over at the line. Falmouth did hold on to the lead at 22-20, but a kill from Kaitlyn Bennett pulled the Clippers even at 22-22, forcing Northway to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as a serve by Mulkern resulted in ace. After Yarmouth hit the ball out on consecutive points, the Yachtsmen were one point from evening the match, but a service fault gave the Clippers life and after Falmouth couldn’t return a shot, the visitors hit the ball out again and Yarmouth had a 26-24 second set victory.

“Skylar stepped up to the service line and did a really nice job and got us back in it,” said Senecal. “It was see-saw right to the end. It was a great finish to that game.”

Despite the demoralizing defeat, the Yachtsmen were confident they could rally and make things interesting and sure enough, a third set victory was within their grasp, but the Clippers would ultimately wrest it away.

Yarmouth got the first two points, but a pair of aces from senior Lydia Abbott sparked a four-point Falmouth run. The Clippers retook the lead, 6-5, on Skylar Bennett’s ace, but the teams would be tied at 6-6, 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9 before a pair of Kaitlyn Bennett aces helped Yarmouth open up a 12-9 lead. Back came the Yachtsmen, as senior Teagan McMahon had a kill and senior Katie Stimson followed with an ace to tie it, 13-13.

Again, the Clippers went ahead on a kill from LeBlanc and an ace from Moran, but again, Falmouth responded with four straight points, highlighted by an Abbott ace. Down 17-15, Yarmouth tied it on a kill from Murray and a block from Kaitlyn Bennett, but a service fault put the Yachtsmen ahead again. The game would be tied, 18-18, 19-19 and 20-20 before the hosts got a kill from Lyon and a Lyon block for a two-point lead, which forced Northway to call timeout.

It worked, as the next three points went to Falmouth, but a service fault tied it again, 23-23. When Lyon served up an ace, the Clippers were a mere point from ending the match, but after the Yachtsmen handled the next serve, Yarmouth hit the ball out. Falmouth then gave the Clippers a gift with a service fault and Moran stepped to the line to win it and did so with an ace, giving Yarmouth the 26-24 third set victory and a 3-0 win in the match.

“We’re really coming together and meshing so well,” Lyon said. “We love each other and I think it really shows on the court. We reached inside and brought everything we had and left it all on the court. We concentrated and didn’t let the pressure get to us. We played loose and confident.”

“I didn’t think it was that long ago (that we beat them),” Senecal said. “I remember that night in our gym. There have been a lot more ‘Ls’ than ‘Ws’ against Falmouth over the years. The kids played very aggressively around the floor tonight. They scrambled more than they have all year. I hope they continue to do that. Part of that was that we had to because they served so well. They’re very powerful. They kept our passing off and forced our game to change a bit. I knew they’d fight us to the end in the third. I’m proud of the kids.”

Moran finished with 20 assists and eight service points, including four aces.

“Dominique is such a key part of our team,” Lyon said. “Her sets are amazing and we have some powerful hitters, so we could work around their size. We had really good passing.”

Up front, Lyon had six blocks and four kills, as well as eight service points.

“Ceanne has come a long way,” said Senecal. “She’s exceeded our expectations. We knew we’d have to use her in the middle. We knew she’d be effective on the block, but her offense has come faster than we thought.” 

Murray finished with six kills and three blocks.

“We didn’t have our outside power, but Maggie stepped up, especially early for us,” Senecal said. “She’s an exciting player. She brings a lot of energy around her.”

LeBlanc added four kills and six service points and Kaitlyn Bennett had nine kills, two blocks and seven service points.

Skylar Bennett contributed 11 service points, including three aces.

Despite the decisive triumph, Senecal noted that aspects of Yarmouth’s game need work.

“We still need to serve a higher percentage,” he said. “We’re struggling at the serving line. We served well in the first set, then we missed a big percentage of our serves. We have to stay in our system all the time, because if we’re not swinging, other teams will beat us.”

Falmouth was led by Noyes, who finished with six kills, five blocks and five service points. Phillips had five assists and three service points, Spiegel five service points and Abbott five service points.

“We had (freshman hitter) Annika (Hester) out, (senior) Kayla Warner out and we lost Katie Phililps partway through,” Northway said. “We have a couple others who have had injuries off and on. It’s been a tough stretch. We tried a brand new rotation yesterday. It took awhile to get into it the first game. The second game it started to click. The third game, we got on a roll, then things fell apart. It was hard to piece everything together, but we have really good heart. We have a great bench. I’m super-proud of how we played and stayed positive.”

See you again?

There’s a good chance Falmouth and Yarmouth will square off at some point in the postseason, but both teams’ focus going forward will be to finish as high as possible in the Class B Heal Points standings.

The Yachtsmen (ranked third in the region at press time) are home with Bonny Eagle Tuesday before traveling to Biddeford for a key test Thursday of next week. Falmouth still has home matches looming with Brunswick and York, as well as trips to Kennebunk, Cape Elizabeth and Greely.

“I feel like we can compete with anyone,” Northway said. “It’s still anyone’s game. We’ve got more work to do still. We just need to recover from injuries. We have height which is nice, we just have to put the pieces together.”

The Clippers (currently second behind Cape Elizabeth) are back in action Tuesday across town at North Yarmouth Academy. Yarmouth still has home matches versus Cheverus, Gardiner and Windham and trips to Mt. Desert Island, Ellsworth and Kennebunk on the schedule.

“I think we can keep improving every day,” Lyon said. “We’ll keep getting better and hopefully go as far as we can.”

“So far, so good,” Senecal said. “Now, our schedule changes a little bit. We’re not playing the top teams. We still have some challenging matches. Overall, I’m happy where we are, but we still have a long way to go.”

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

Falmouth seniors Teagan McMahon (28) and Alston Armstrong try to block a shot at the net.

Falmouth senior Alison Noyes goes up for a kill as Yarmouth junior Ceanne Lyon defends.

Yarmouth junior Dominique Moran sets the ball.

Yarmouth junior Skylar Bennett hits the floor to save the ball.

Yarmouth freshman Maggie Murray tries to block the kill attempt of Falmouth senior Alston Armstrong.

Falmouth sophomore Holly Barney serves the ball.

Falmouth senior Danielle Casavant kills the ball over Yarmouth freshman Mayzie Mulkern.

Yarmouth had a lot to celebrate Thursday, as it finished the first half of the season 6-1.

Previous Falmouth-Yarmouth results

Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 0

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1 

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 2 

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1 

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 3 Falmouth 2 

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0 

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1
West Region quarterfinals
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0 

@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 3 Falmouth 1 

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