YARMOUTH—Greely’s volleyball team has come a long way in a short time this fall, but the Rangers learned Wednesday evening that they still have a ways to go to reach the stratospheric level of defending Class B state champion Yarmouth.

Greely hung tough in the first set and pulled even at 15-15, but junior Kaitlyn Bennett rattled off nine straight service points to give the Clippers a 25-15 win.

In the second game, the Rangers got as close as 17-14, but junior Maggie Murray took over with her hitting prowess and Yarmouth prevailed, 25-17.

The Clippers hoped to end it in straight sets, but despite being pushed on several occasions, including when the score was tied, 20-20, Greely didn’t buckle and eked out a 25-23 victory to extend the match.

Yarmouth then put it away in the fourth game, as junior Evelyn Lukis had eight kills and the Clippers went on to a 25-14 win to capture the match, 3-1.

Murray produced 21 kills and Lukis added 16 as Yarmouth won its 10th match in a row, improved to 10-1 and in the process, dropped the Rangers to 5-5.

“Hats off to (Greely),” said Clippers coach Jim Senecal. “Give them credit. They kept us off-balance and we couldn’t stay in system. We struggled passing and hitting. It wasn’t our normal rhythm.”

Twists and turns

Yarmouth is where it was projected to be when the season began, at the top of the Class B standings.

Greely, meanwhile, has worked its way up the ladder as well. The Rangers lost four of their first five matches, falling in three-sets at Cape Elizabeth and after beating visiting Wells in four-sets, losing in four-sets at home to Yarmouth and Cheverus, then in three-sets at Falmouth. After downing visiting Gardiner in four-sets, Greely edged host Mt. Desert Island in five-sets, then blanked visiting Nokomis and host Cony.

The Clippers opened with a four-set loss at Falmouth, then put it all together, beginning with a three-set home victory over Cape Elizabeth in a state rematch. Yarmouth then blanked visiting Brunswick/Mt. Ararat, won in four-sets at Greely, blanked visiting Washington Academy, host York, visiting Nokomis, host Brewer and host Wells before having to go four-sets Saturday to knock off visiting Class A power Scarborough.

In the teams’ meeting Sept. 13, Yarmouth took the first set, 25-3, but Greely rallied to win the second, 25-23, before the Clippers closed it out, 25-20, 25-7.

That marked the fourth consecutive win for Yarmouth over the Rangers, who had won the first 23 meetings between the schools.

Wednesday, the Clippers prevailed again, but not without some anxious moments.

The first game was tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6, but Yarmouth got the next four points, as Lukis had a kill and junior Sadie Gallant served up a pair of aces. Greely battled back to tie it at 11-11, then, after the Clippers took a 15-12 advantage on an ace from junior Avery Dube, the Rangers scored three in a row to tie it again, forcing Senecal to call timeout.

The break did wonders, as Lukis had a kill to put Yarmouth ahead to stay, then Bennett stepped to the service line and didn’t leave until the set was over. Bennett served nine consecutive points, including an ace, sophomore setter Sophie Dickson passed beautifully and Murray had a block and three kills, including one to end it, 25-15.

“It’s nice to have Kaitlyn back,” Senecal said. “She’s recovered from knee surgery in the offseason. She’s a great player for us.”

In addition to Bennett’s nine service points, Yarmouth also got 10 assists from Dickson, five kills from Murray and four kills from Lukis.

Dickson started the second set with consecutive aces, but Greely battled back to tie it at 2-2 and 5-5. A kill from Murray gave the Clippers the lead, then Bennett served up an ace and Murray had a pair of kills for a 10-5 edge. Yarmouth made it 15-8 before the Rangers got as close as 17-14 on a kill from junior Ciel Antoine.

Again, with the game hanging in the balance, Yarmouth did what it took to put it away. After a Murray kill and an ace from Dube, Greely got a point back, but a service fault and a Murray kill made it 21-15 Clippers. After a Rangers’ point, Murray had a kill, junior Margaret McNeill added another and after the teams traded service faults, an ace from Gallant gave Yarmouth the 25-17 win and a 2-0 match lead.

In the set, Dickson had 10 more assists, Murray produced seven kills and Bennett added five more service points.

The Clippers then hoped to put it away in three sets, but Greely showed its mettle and stayed alive.

Sophomore Allie McClafferty opened the game with a kill for the hosts and after the Rangers answered, Murray had a kill as well, but a service fault and an ace from junior Eliza Rowland put the visitors ahead. A kill from junior Maddie Hall made it 5-2 Greely and after Yarmouth rallied to go ahead, 10-7, on kills from Murray and McClafferty, the Rangers got eight of the next nine points and took a 15-11 lead on a kill from junior Samantha Goldburg.

Senecal took a timeout and Lukis, who was battling an illness, returned to the court, where she helped the Clippers rally and pull even with a pair of kills. McNeill’s kill made it 20-20, but after a tremendous save from Greely junior Haley Vaccarello, Yarmouth hit the ball out to turn momentum back to the Rangers. A Lukis kill tied it again, 22-22, but a service fault gave Greely the lead and the Clippers were unable to return the ball on the next point. A Rangers’ service fault set up set point and after a Yarmouth net violation, Greely took the third game, 25-23.

Antoine led the way with six service points, while senior libero Audrey Boyle refused to let the ball hit the floor.

“Audrey had a great game for us tonight,” said Rangers coach Kelvin Hasch.

The Clippers never trailed in the fourth set and a fast start ended any lingering doubt.

A McClafferty kill got things started and an ace from Dickson made it 3-0. The Rangers got a kill from Rowland, but Lukis responded with a kill, senior Caeden Rogers had a block and Lukis served up successive aces for a 7-1 lead. Greely had one last surge, pulling within 9-8 on a kill and a block from senior Katie Fitzpatrick. Yarmouth then broke it open with seven straight points, as Lukis had four kills.

“(Evelyn’s) been under the weather a little bit,” Senecal said. “(Resting her in the third set) gave us an opportunity to try our backup and Allie stepped in and did a nice job filling in. Evelyn came in refreshed (for the fourth game) and that worked out for us. She took over.”

A kill from Goldburg pulled the Rangers within 16-10, but two Lukis kills sandwiched around an ace from Gallant opened it up again. Greely made it 21-13, but a Bennett kill and two Murray kills set up match point and after a Clippers’ service fault, the Rangers served the ball into the net and that ended it, 25-14.

“(Greely) gave us a good battle tonight,” Senecal said. “They picked up a lot of balls in the back. Their libero, I don’t know how many digs she had, but she was very effective. The rest of their kids kept returning balls.”

In addition to Lukis and Murray’s hitting prowess, Bennett had 15 service points and four kills and Dickson added a whopping 44 assists.

“Sophie is so good and so consistent,” Lukis said. “I can totally count on her.”

Gallant finished with nine service points.

The Rangers were paced by Antoine’s 10 assists and nine service points, eight kills from Fitzpatrick and Rowland’s seven service points and six kills.

“We’re getting better,” Hasch said. “This is the best we’ve played yet this season. We played the whole match right with them and I was happy about that. We just had to get some experience and get better. Now, we have to get our (injured) girls back.”

Postseason quest

Greely (now fourth in the Class B Heal Points standings) is back in action Saturday at home versus Brewer. Home matches against Westbrook and Cape Elizabeth and a trip to York close the regular season.

“We want to finish as high as we can and see what happens in the real season,” said Hasch. “We have four matches left and we’ll see.”

Yarmouth can essentially lock up the No. 1 seed in Class B with a win at Washington Academy Saturday. The Clippers then host York and go to Cape Elizabeth to finish the regular year.

“We’re so connected as a team and we have so much fun playing together,” Lukis said. “I want to win (states) again. It’s so exciting. We just have to keep our consistency.”

“We need a stronger performance,” Senecal said. “We need to get our game and our rhythm back and if we do that, we’ll be fine. Its important to our kids to finish first, but we want to be successful in every match we play. We feel like we can still improve.”

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

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