SOUTH BERWICK — Top-seeded Falmouth earned its second volleyball state championship, and first since 2013, ending No. 2 Gorham’s bid for an undefeated season and its first state title with a 3-0 victory in the Class A final Saturday at Marshwood High School.

Falmouth, last year’s Class B runner-up before returning to Class A this year, jumped out to early leads in each set and was in control throughout on the way to a 25-18, 25-17, 25-16 win, as both teams finished the season 16-1.

Sophomore outside hitter Annika Hester led the Yachtsmen with eight kills, two of them high-flying power shots in the second set that twice stopped the Rams’ momentum.

“My legs were tired today, so I didn’t hit down, I tried to hit further back,” Hester said. “Coach and I talked about that, to avoid their blockers, I had to hit it to different areas. I normally can jump higher and hit down. Today, I tried to be smarter.”

Falmouth’s first-year coach, Larry Nichols, said there was much fine-tuning done to give the Yachtsmen an edge over an opponent they didn’t face during the regular season.

“They’re undefeated for a reason,” Nichols said of Gorham. “They score a lot of points. So we had to do more on defense. Rose Riversmith was one of the pieces to the puzzle. She had to come up with big blocks to kill their momentum, and she did. Everyone did what they were supposed to do.”

Riversmith had five blocks – including the winning point – and a kill.

Senior setter Summer Spiegel also was instrumental, setting up sophomore middle Katie Phillips on a play where Phillips slid behind Spiegel and finished with a hard shot that was like an exclamation point.

Phillips had three kills, two aces and three blocks.

In the first set, Falmouth went on a 9-0 tear that turned into a 14-2 run before Gorham battled back with an Evelyn Kitchen kill, a Kitchen block and a well-placed shot by the middle hitter. After Rams setter Isabelle Kolb served an ace, Gorham pulled within 19-13.

After two misplaced shots by Gorham, however, Spiegel and Phillips executed their slide play to make it 23-14.

Gorham junior Talia Catoggio’s two aces helped pull the Rams within five, but after a Phillips kill, the Yachtsmen won the next rally to take the set.

In the second set, Falmouth again took the lead again, although Gorham kept it closer. After a Kitchen block and an ace from Kolb, the Yachtsmen led 10-9.

But then Hester found a hole, and senior Alex Burton did as well, and Falmouth pulled away. The set ended with Hester setting up a Hillary Bouchard shot to the back line.

“I think this was the best we’ve played all season,” Spiegel said. “We talked a lot, we kept the energy up.”

After Falmouth took a 4-0 lead in the third set, the teams traded points and Gorham twice tied it. But Falmouth soon opened a lead, as Hester had four of her kills in the set and twice found a hole to win the point. The match ended with two Riversmith blocks.

“They wanted it,” Kitchen said. “We felt we brought positive energy into the game. I’m proud of how we played. They are just an amazing team.”

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

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Twitter: FlemingPph