GORHAM—It wasn’t supposed to be this easy.

Yarmouth’s volleyball team managed to repeat as Class B state champion Friday evening on the campus of the University of Southern Maine, beating rival Cape Elizabeth for the second year in a row, but this time, the Clippers didn’t get pushed to the physical and emotional brink before celebrating.

This time, Yarmouth needed just three sets to earn its coronation.

The Clippers set the tone in the first set, trailing much of the way before rallying to win, 25-21, behind strong blocking from senior Caeden Rogers and junior Margaret McNeil, the setting of sophomore sensation Sophie Dickson, the hitting of juniors Evelyn Lukis and Maggie Murray and the serving of junior Kaitlyn Bennett.

Yarmouth never trailed in the second game, saw Murray dominate at the net and Bennett, Dickson and Lukis excel from the service line, which all added up to a 25-18 victory.

In 2018, the Clippers also beat the Capers in the first two sets, but Cape Elizabeth rallied to extend the match to the limit.

This time, Yarmouth didn’t allow the never-say-die Capers to gain any momentum and with Dickson setting the ball with aplomb and Lukis and Murray sending it crashing to the floor, the Clippers opened up a healthy lead and went on to a 25-17 victory, which was capped by a Lukis kill, giving Yarmouth another crown in three sets.

The Clippers closed the season on a 16-match win streak, ended up 16-1, won Class B for the fifth time since 2011 and ended Cape Elizabeth’s campaign at 12-5.

“It’s sweet,” said Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. “I was nervous coming in because everything seemed reversed from last year. (Cape) seemed to have more momentum, but we have a lot of talent. The confidence the girls showed was the difference. I’m just so impressed. We had to play like that to sweep Cape. I expected it to be five (sets).”

Deja vu

Last year’s Class B state final match at South Portland High School was one for the ages, as Yarmouth won the first two sets, Cape Elizabeth took the next two games, then the Clippers held on for a 15-11 win in the fifth set to take the championship.

This fall, Yarmouth has set the tone in Class B, while the Capers took awhile to hit their stride before joining the Clippers on the big stage.

Yarmouth opened with a four-set loss at Falmouth, then put it all together, beginning with a three-set home victory over Cape Elizabeth. The Clippers 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 to knock off visiting Class A power Scarborough. After a 3-0 home win over Greely, Yarmouth won in three-games at Washington Academy, needed four-sets to down visiting York, then closed the regular season with a five-game victory at Cape Elizabeth.

The Clippers blanked No. 8 Wells in the state quarterfinals and did the same to No. 4 York in Wednesday’s semifinals.

Cape Elizabeth opened with a straight-set home win over Greely. After a 3-0 loss at the Clippers, the Capers blanked visiting Mt. Desert Island and Wells and beat host Nokomis and Deering in straight sets. Cape Elizabeth then lost at home to Scarborough in five games (letting a 2-0 lead slip away), then beat host Westbrook, 3-0. After taking defending and eventual repeat Class A champion Falmouth to five-games before losing, but giving the Yachtsmen their toughest match all season, the Capers blanked visiting York and host Biddeford, held off host Gorham in five-games and swept host Greely before closing with a five-set home loss to Yarmouth.

Cape Elizabeth downed No. 6 Mt. Desert Island in three-games in the quarterfinals, then had to go to No. 2 Washington Academy for the semifinals Wednesday, but it was worth the trip, as the Capers won again in three-games.

Cape Elizabeth was appearing in its fourth state final in six seasons, after downing Falmouth in five-sets in 2014 and in three-games in 2017 and losing to Yarmouth last year.

The Clippers, meanwhile, were in their fifth Class B state match in nine seasons, after downing Bucksport in three-games in 2011, Washington Academy in five-sets in 2013, Machias in three-games in 2014 and Cape Elizabeth in five-games last fall.

Friday, Yarmouth stayed undefeated all-time on the big stage, getting clutch contributions from everyone who saw the floor.

The first game was tied, 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 5-5, 17-17 and 18-18, but on each occasion, the Capers won the next point. After pulling even at 19-19, the Clippers took their first lead, on a Lukis kill. Murray followed with a block and Cape Elizabeth coach Sarah Boeckel took timeout, but Murray had another block for a 22-19 lead. The Capers got a point back on a block from junior Alison Gerety. After a Cape Elizabeth service fault, Rogers kept the ball alive with an amazing save and the Capers couldn’t return the ball to set up set point. The Capers stayed alive on a kill from sophomore Antonella Bisceglie, but Cape Elizabeth served the ball into the net and Yarmouth had the first game, 25-21.

“We struggled at the beginning,” McNeil said. “Cape came out strong and pushed us back a little bit. It was huge to come back and take that set.”

“It was really important to come back,” Murray said. “Besides (the) Falmouth (match), I think we’ve won every first set. We were able to come back.”

“We had a tight first set and we were fortunate to get it,” Senecal added. “We showed calmness. I’m proud of the girls for that. That sent us along.”

Rogers had two blocks and the amazing save to help set the tone.

“Caeden was amazing,” said McNeil.

“Caeden’s defense at the net is the best I’ve ever seen her play,” said Murray. “She had a phenomenal game.”

“Caeden Rogers had by far her best match of the year,” Senecal added. “She made some spectacular plays. I was happy to see that.”

Four kills from Lukis, two kills and two blocks from Murray, five assists from Dickson, four blocks from McNeil and four service points from Bennett played a key role in the comeback.

The Clippers’ second game victory came in more traditional fashion.

Lukis got things started with a kill and a Murray kill put Yarmouth on top for good. An ace by Lukis, which hit the net and fell over, helped open up a 6-1 lead. The Capers crept back to 8-5 on a kill from sophomore Annaliese Rudberg, but the next four points went to the Clippers, highlighted by a Murray kill and an ace from Bennett. Cape Elizabeth cut the deficit to three on multiple occasions, but a Lukis kill and an ace from junior Sadie Gallant made it 22-17 and forced Boeckel called timeout.

After the Capers got a point back, Lukis had a kill, Cape Elizabeth hit the ball out, then the Capers sent the ball into the net to give Yarmouth a 25-18 victory and a 2-0 match lead.

In that game, Dickson had eight assists, while Lukis had five service points, Bennett added three service points and Murray contributed five kills.

Senior setter Corina Page had 10 assists, senior Jaya McClure had four kills and Rudberg three kills in that set, but Cape Elizabeth was pushed to the brink.

The Capers have long been known for their ability to get off the deck, but this time, the Clippers didn’t let it happen.

Cape Elizabeth led the third set, 3-2, on a kill from freshman Amy Rasco, before Murray and Bennett had successive kills to put Yarmouth on top for good. Murray followed with an ace. With the score, 7-5, the Clippers got a kill from McNeil and another from Lukis. A service fault gave the Capers a point back, but the next eight points went to Yarmouth, with seven of them coming with Dickson at the service line. In that run, Rogers, Murray and Lukis all had kills, while Dickson served an ace.

“The kids played really well in the third set,” Senecal said. “We got up on them big and made it hard on them. You see how Cape extends rallies. There’s no team like them. We had to stay aggressive and keep pounding. That kept slower balls coming back at us and prevented them from doing what they wanted to do.”

A McClure kill ended the run, but Lukis had a kill and after the Clippers somehow managed to play a tricky ball off the ceiling, Murray’s kill made it 19-9. Cape Elizabeth got back to 21-15 on kills from Rudberg, Rasco and junior Aerin Manning, but the Capers couldn’t return the ball on the next point. After a kill from Rudberg, McNeil had a kill and Lukis followed with another to set up match point.

Then, at 9:52 p.m., off a set from Murray, Lukis soared for a kill and Yarmouth had a 25-17 third set victory and took the match, 3-0.

“I was always taught that if the setter doesn’t get the first ball, that I put the ball five feet off the ground and five feet in, so I was just going on instinct,” said Murray, of match point. “(Evelyn) got that point and I was so ecstatic. It feels really good. We tend to lose the third set. Going into it, we knew we had momentum, but we knew we couldn’t get complacent. We wanted to end it there. It was important for us to just win it.”

“I didn’t know it was game point and then, I had the entire group rushing toward me,” Lukis said. “It was pure happiness. It’s incredible. The team worked so hard. I don’t really have words. I’m astonished we won in three. Cape’s not an easy team to beat. They put up a great fight. We’re really happy we pulled it off. We stayed so positive. Our third set was one of our best sets yet. When we come in and have a lot of energy and support each other, we play so well together.”

“I was kind of in shock,” Dickson said. “It was surreal at the end. I think it was our chemistry that made the difference. Everybody worked together really well. Cape put up such a fight, but once we get a lead and momentum, that’s key.”

“It feels awesome,” said McNeil. “I think the coaches knew what to do. They had a great set-up for us and worked us hard.”

Dickson had 12 assists and seven service points in the third game and wound up with 25 assists and a dozen service points as she capped her first season as setter with a terrific effort.

“I was nervous,” Dickson said. “We talked about butterflies before. It was a good thing. Good butterflies.”

“Sophie was just on fire,” Lukis said. “I knew she’d be this good. I totally trust her. She’s amazing.”

“Sophie was my setter in (juniors) and she’s an amazing person and player,” Murray said. “She gets to balls that are so hard to get. She just makes it so easy for me to do my job.”

“Sophie Dickson is a phenom,” Senecal added. “Some of the plays she made, it’s just so much fun watching her. She did an excellent job.”

Lukis, who had six kills in the final game, including the title clincher, finished with 12 kills and six service points.

Murray, who also had six kills in the third set, finished with 13 kills, three blocks and one huge assist.

McNeil added six blocks and five kills.

“We got a huge contribution tonight from Margaret McNeil,” Senecal said.

Rogers contributed three blocks.

Bennett finished with five service points and four kills.

Gallant had four service points and junior libero Avery Dube added three.

“Our defense was great,” Dickson said. “Our libero, Avery Dube, played so well.”

“We just wanted to keep them out of system,” McNeil said.

“Because of our length, we stopped Cape from doing what they want to do,” Senecal added. “They can hit against teams that don’t have our size. We got a piece of just about everything. Our hitters hit well on each side.”

Second place again

Cape Elizabeth was paced by 26 assists from Page.

Rudberg had seven kills and four blocks, McClure seven kills, Rasco six kills and three service points, Bisceglie four kills and four service points, Gerety three blocks, Manning three kills and a pair of service points and junior libero Julia Torre four service points and countless digs.

“I thought for sure we’d come in and give them a match, if not take the match,” Boeckel said. “We couldn’t allow runs and we did a lot of things we said we weren’t going to do and they took advantage. Yarmouth just had everything going for them tonight. They deserved it. We got beaten by a better team. We didn’t give ourselves as many opportunities to attack the ball and I think we played tight at times.

“Corina Page put us on her back. She kept us in so many points. Julia Torre, same thing. Jaya McClure played a great match. Amy Rasco had a solid performance.

“For what people thought would be a rebuilding year, I’ll take second best team in the state.”

The Capers graduate McClure and Page and their absence will be felt, but several other key contributors return meaning Cape Elizabeth will be back in the title hunt again in 2010.

“The goal is to get back here,” Boeckel said. “It’s highly likely we’ll see (Yarmouth) again.”

History beckons

Yarmouth has now gone back-to-back twice in its history, but has yet to three-peat.

The 2020 Clippers could change that.

Yarmouth will say goodbye to Rogers and Shanti Gallivan, but everyone else returns.

Don’t be surprised if the Clippers are partying again a year from now.

Perhaps at Cape Elizabeth’s expense once more.

“I’d love to win a third year in a row,” said Lukis. “I’m excited for next year.”

“We want to win again so much, but we’ll need to work hard,” Dickson said. “Cape will be coming back for us.”

“I think it’s possible to do it again,” said McNeil. “If we work hard.”

“I want to play even better next year,” Murray said. “We’ll keep pushing. We know if we don’t work, we won’t win again. Cape’s an amazing team and Boeckel is an amazing coach and we’ll see them again. We have to get ready for that.”

“Most of our starters are back, so we should be strong next year as well,” Senecal added. “If we get back, I have a pretty good idea of who we’d be playing against.”

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

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