An ability to win long points in the final set proved the difference Thursday night as ninth-ranked Marshwood advanced to the Class A volleyball quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory against eighth-seeded Cheverus.

“It’s the first-ever playoff win for us so it’s especially sweet,” said Hawks Coach Paul Brisson. “It was exciting.”

Marshwood (8-7) will be at top-ranked Falmouth (14-0), the defending state champion, in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Hawks made an immediate statement, taking a 6-1 lead in the first set and while Cheverus (8-7) rallied to draw even at 19-19, the final six points went to Marshwood, which used a block from Raya Anderson, an ace from Reid Johnson and a Stags net violation.

Cheverus came back strong in the second game, getting six service points from Kristina Matkevich, five kills from Alex Hammond and six assists from Maddie Williams en route to a 25-16 victory, capped by a kill from Hammond.

The third set featured 13 ties and the Stags were two points from taking control of the match, leading 23-22. But Cheverus failed on consecutive possessions to get the ball over the net, then Johnson’s ace gave the Hawks a 25-23 victory and a 2-1 lead.

Again the Stags responded, never trailing in the fourth game and, behind 11 assists from Williams and six service points from Matkevich, won 25-18 to set up the decisive fifth set.

There, with Erin Gray, one of Marshwood’s two seniors, flying all over the court and keeping points alive with her athleticism, the Hawks had just enough to finish it off.

Cheverus held an 8-6 lead but the next five points went to Marshwood, highlighted by a pair of aces from Anderson and a kill from Margaret Kovalcin.

The Stags got a point back, but a service fault, a Kovalcin block, a Cheverus return out of bounds and an ace from Gray finished it off.

“I thought I needed to put a little bit more on (that last serve),” said Gray (eight kills, five aces). “This means a lot. I thought it might be our last match today and as a senior, I didn’t want that to happen.”

Cheverus was led by Williams (22 assists) and Hammond (18 kills).

“I think hustle had a lot to do with (the result),” said Stags Coach Andy Wimmer. “(Marshwood) kept balls alive, kept going and never gave up.

“I always believed in this team. We got so much better throughout the year. We didn’t take care of business tonight but we have a lot of players who improved and that’s a testament to their hard work.”

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