FALMOUTH — Two volleyball powers met Thursday night with their new head coaches.

Both Larry Nichols of Falmouth and Kim Stoddard of Scarborough are reloading after heavy graduation losses. That made this match a good benchmark.

Falmouth measured a little better, beating the Red Storm three games to one – 25-10, 25-20, 17-25, 25-18.

Falmouth, last year’s Class B runner-up now playing in Class A, has jumped to 4-0. Scarborough, the defending Class A champion, is 3-1.

Annika Hester paced the Yachtsmen with 18 kills. Hester, 6-foot-2 and an All-State selection last year, was dominating at times with her thundering hits.

“Setting up Annika is the best feeling,” said Falmouth setter Summer Spiegel. “I can’t hit it that hard so the next-best thing is setting her – and she just crushes it.”

Spiegel recorded 14 assists, second to fellow setter Katie Phillips (17). They are two of the regulars, with Hester, back for the Falmouth.

That has Nichols, formerly the Deering head coach, trying to get his young team to meld.

“A lot of new pieces,” Nichols said. “(It’s like) giving them permission to play, to be aggressive. It’s interesting watching them gain confidence every week. We’re a different team every week, which is terrifying and great at the same time.”

That meant playing the defending champs was a good test.

“This was our first big game of the season,’ Spiegel said. “We’re kind of the underdogs right now. People expect us to be bad after losing seven seniors. We wanted to prove ourselves.”

Well, Falmouth is rarely predicted to be bad. The Yachtsmen are growing back into form. It helps having Hester. But others complemented her at the net, including Phillips (four kills), Alex Burton (six kills), Kiera O’Brien (four blocks) and Rose Riversmith (four kills). Hillary Bouchard provided a “calming factor” on the back line, according to Nichols, with her defense and solid serving.”

But it was the front line that gave Scarborough difficulty.

“This season we don’t have as many tall blockers so it’s definitely harder (to defend),” Amelia Hardy of Scarborough said. “This was definitely a good match to get used to that.

“We’ve been working a lot on defense. (Hester) is amazing. We got some good digs off her so we’re proud of that.”

Indeed, the scrappy Red Storm kept digging and coming back.

“We’re staying aggressive with what we’re doing,” Stoddard said.

Stoddard, who was Scarborough’s assistant coach the previous eight years, said this season has “been an adjustment but I have a great group of kids. They’ve made it easy for me.”

Hardy was a leader on the floor Thursday, as was fellow senior outside hitter Catherine Shaw. They, with the spikes and serves from Shaelyn Thornton and Anna Gardner – with Mayne Gwyer setting – kept the Red Storm competitive.

Falmouth dominated the first game and rallied from an 11-6 deficit in the second.

The Yachtsmen trailed 10-5 in the third, closed to 12-11, but then Scarborough pulled away.

“Scarborough plays great defense and they attack you all the time,” Nichols said. “But our issue was being sloppy with the ball.”

Falmouth cleaned up its play in the fourth game, jumped ahead 13-6, then 20-11, and cruised. A Hester kill finished it.

Both teams play again next Tuesday, with Falmouth at Cape Elizabeth – a rematch of last year’s Class B title game – and Scarborough playing host to Massabesic.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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