WINDHAM—The Eagles battled past the visiting Riots 3-2 on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, barely inching through the tournament quarterfinals against a resilient opponent.

Windham claimed the first set 25-23. The Riots took an early, 5-10 lead, but the Eagles clawed back at 16-16. A back-and-forth ensued, but Windham soon pulled out front 24-19.

Finally, at 24-23, the Eagles “scored the needed point off a setter dump by Megan Fleck,” as head coach Chris Cloutier put it.

South Portland roared back in the second set and evened the tally at one-set-to-one, winning 25-20. “This set was close throughout,” Cloutier said, “with the lead never growing to more than three points until South Portland took a late 23-18 lead.”

The advantage changed hands five times in the second set, according to Cloutier.

The Riots jumped out front two-sets-to-one when they claimed the third 25-23. South Portland opened strong in the stretch, moving to 12-5. Windham scrabbled to recover, and never quite managed to. By the time the Riots hit 19-11, they were perhaps uncatchable.

“Windham had a couple service runs,” Cloutier said, “but nothing that would amount to enough before South Portland closed it out.”

The Eagles took the fourth set 25-23 to balance things out at two-sets-to-two. The sides hacked at each other to 10-10 before SoPo scooted to 17-12. Windham battled, and pulled within three, 22-19, on a Lydia Budroe kill from the outside.

Fleck then broke into a five-point service run to claim the upper-hand once and for all.

Windham capped the day 16-14 in set five. The Riots seemed to have the action well in-hand – they leapt on top 9-1 – but Morgan Proulx’s brilliant serving ushered the Eagles within three, 9-6. An outside kill by Alexis Budroe and a back-row kill by Lydia Budroe kept Windham hot on SoPo’s heels at 11-9.

The Riots dashed to 14-11 – and match point – “before siding out,” as Cloutier said, “on a kill from the outside by Lydia Budroe.” Fleck then broke into a four-point run on the serve – and four points were enough to grab a come-from-behind victory.

Cloutier took a moment to praise a number of his girls. “Our key players were Alexis Budroe, Megan Fleck and Sierra Guite,” he said. “Alexis took care of the ball at the net, scoring 13 kills on 33 attempts with only four errors. She was finding the holes in the defense at the right times. Megan hustled after balls and gave hitters sets they could do something with, tallying up 44 assists. She was also a key to the defense, with 17 digs. Sierra had to defend South Portland’s big hitter in the middle as well as find a way to avoid her block. Megan and Sierra mixed it up enough to keep her on her toes while Sierra scored 12 kills.”

The triumph boosted No. 4 Windham to 12-3 on the season, and ended No. 5 South Portland’s run at 11-4. On Wednesday the 30th, the Eagles travel for the semifinals to No. 1 Falmouth, 14-0 so far this autumn.

Sarah Elder fires off a serve. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Lydia Budroe unwinds into a serve. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Sierra Guite works the net. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Meghan Harmon attacks at the net. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Megan Fleck lofts a ball up for Windham. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Morgan Proulx connects with a ball for the Eagles. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

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