(Ed. Note: With high school sports currently on hiatus, please join me in a look back at some of the finest teams our coverage area has produced this century. To help us get through the summer, each week, I’ll present the top 10 teams from a different sport…four honorable mentions, then our “Super Six,” These rankings are put together with help from coaches and others, including a Twitter poll each week at twitter.com/foresports, but the final decision is mine. This week it’s volleyball. Girls’ hockey is on deck…)

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The sport of high school volleyball has grown exponentially in recent years and Forecaster Country has been the biggest beneficiary, with multiple teams winning multiple state titles in that span.

While Greely was long the gold standard, several other schools have fought their way to the top and there were many fine championship teams to choose from in determining this list.

Without further adieu, here’s one writer’s stab at the finest squads we’ve seen over the past 20 years:

Honorable mentions (in chronological order)

Greely Rangers, 17-0, 2008 state champion

File photos

While the Rangers won 66 consecutive matches between 2003 and 2007, the overall quality of competition wasn’t as strong as it would become by 2008, when the likes of Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Scarborough had programs up and running. Greely’s sixth consecutive state championship team, featuring All-State standouts Michaela Campbell (92 kills, 84 digs, 15 aces) and Hillary Cederna (126 kills, 54 aces, 85 digs and 14 blocks), and also led by defensive standout Kayla Simpson, setters Karlee Biskup and Abby Rivers and hitters Erin Cadigan and Linnea Zrioka, dropped just one set all season, gave coach Kelvin Hasch his 100th career victory and rolled to the title.

The Rangers’ only brush with mortality all season came in the opener versus Biddeford, when they dropped the third set, but they prevailed, 3-1. From there, Greely won each match by a 3-0 margin to wind up 14-0 and first in the West Region. The Rangers continued to steamroll the competition in the playoffs, blanking Gorham and Biddeford (behind 11 kills and eight aces from Cederna) to reach the state match, where they shut out Mt. Desert Island (25-17, 25-20, 25-18) to return to the pinnacle (Cederna led the way with a dozen kills, while Campbell added nine). At the time, it didn’t appear that Greely’s dominance would ever end.

Coach Kelvin Hasch: “It’s always nice to win. We have 14 kids who can play. It’s probably the deepest team we’ve had since we started here.”

Falmouth Yachtsmen, 15-2, 2013 Class A state champion

Falmouth’s program arrived as a power almost immediately, but the Yachtsmen’s first two trips to the state final ended in defeat. The third time, however, would prove to be a charm. Falmouth, which featured seniors Riley Burfeind and Katrina Meserve, juniors Leigh Bernardy, Ally Hickey and Megan Tammaro and sophomore Julia Treadwell, just got better and better as the season progressed, then survived three tough playoff challenges to reach the pinnacle.

The Yachtsmen started 9-0, including a 3-2 win over Greely, then dropped a five-set decision to Scarborough. After beating Greely again by a 3-2 score and surviving Biddeford and Gorham as well, Falmouth closed with another five-set loss to Scarborough to wind up 12-2 and second for the Class A tournament, but that setback refocused the Yachtsmen, who would wind up atop the heap at last.

In the state quarterfinals, Falmouth had to contend with always-tough Biddeford and while the Yachtsmen advanced in three games, it wasn’t easy (25-21, 25-19, 25-22). Burfeind’s 16 kills helped lead the way. The semifinals would see unheralded Cape Elizabeth push Falmouth to the brink. Down 2-sets-to-1 and trailing, 23-22, in the fourth game, the Yachtsmen discovered their championship heart and rallied to extend the match to a decisive fifth set and they advanced, 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 25-27, 25-23, 15-9), as Meserve came up huge late in the match. Falmouth would get a third crack at Scarborough in the state final and the Yachtsmen were ready. They took the first set, 26-24, and the second, 25-19. After the Red Storm won the third game, 25-21, Falmouth closed it out, 25-19, and had a 3-1 victory and an elusive state title. Meserve led the way with 13 kills and a block that brought the curtain down, while Burfeind added 10 kills and Tammaro had 27 assists. It was the first, but nowhere near the last championship the Yachtsmen would get to celebrate.

Coach Gary Powers: “It’s exciting for us. We’d been here twice before and (didn’t win a game), so this is phenomenal. These kids have been awesome to work with. We came out and played well, played hard. They did everything they were supposed to do. The girls did an awesome job. They believed in themselves. They made all the smart plays.”

Cape Elizabeth Capers, 15-2, 2014 Class A state champion

The Cardiac Capers put their coaches and fans through an emotional wringer during the most exciting title run to date. One which culminated with the program’s first championship. Cape Elizabeth, which featured freshman setter Maggie Dadmun and a bevy of clutch contributors like Maddie Bowe, Lydia Brenneman, Katie Connelly, Monica Dell’Aquila, Tess Haller and Monika Scheindel, had to go five sets in every postseason match, but won them all.

The Capers had barely lost to eventual champion Falmouth in the 2013 state semifinals and started the 2014 campaign with just three wins in their first five matches, but then they caught fire and they wouldn’t lose again. Cape Elizabeth closed the regular season on a nine-match win streak, including a dramatic five-set victory over Scarborough and a 3-0 win over perennial powerhouse Greely. Despite going 12-2, the Capers only earned the No. 5 seed for the Class A playoffs, but by the time the postseason was finished, they were number one.

In the quarterfinals, at a Scarborough team that would win the title the following year, Cape Elizabeth won the first set, 25-13, then dropped the next two, 24-26, 29-31. The resilient Capers would regroup, however, and win the fourth game, 25-22, and the fifth, 15-6, to capture the match, 3-2, as Dadmun had 30 assists, Connelly 13 kills and Dell’Aquila 11 kills. Cape Elizabeth dug an even deeper hole in the semifinals at top-ranked Greely, never holding a lead in dropping the first two sets, 13-25 and 12-25, but again saving their best for last, the Capers eked out wins in the third (28-26) and fourth (25-22) games, before taking the fifth, 15-11, to again win by a 3-2 score and stunningly advance to the state final (Dadmun had 28 assists, while Haller had 12 kills). When Cape Elizabeth dropped the first two sets to Falmouth in the state final (22-25, 18-25), the Capers had the Yachtsmen right where they wanted them. A 25-22 third game victory gave Cape Elizabeth life, then the Capers won the fourth game by a 25-22 score as well. With the match and championship hanging in the balance, Cape Elizabeth wouldn’t be denied, winning the fifth set, 15-8, and the title, 3-2. The palpitations from that championship run still linger.

Coach Sarah Boeckel: “I can’t believe we pulled off what we did. What an amazing run and an even better championship. My girls are just fighters and so mentally strong. I’m so proud of them. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a player or a coach. What these girls did was unbelievable. It’s something I’ll never forget. This title means so much. It’s for all the girls who started the program and helped build it. There were a lot of former players at the (state match) and they felt it every bit as much as this year’s players.”

Yarmouth Clippers, 16-1, 2019 Class B state champion

The most dominant of Yarmouth’s five championship teams, the Clippers lost just one match (to the state’s best team), then rolled to the title and punctuated their best-ever season with a surprisingly convincing victory over their rival in the final match. After winning the 2018 Class B crown in a mild surprise, Yarmouth, led by superb sophomore setter Sophie Dickson and terrific play at the net from Kaitlyn Bennett, Evelyn Lukis, Margaret McNeil, Maggie Murray and Caeden Rogers, didn’t surprise the volleyball world by repeating, but in the manner it did so.

The Clippers opened the season against defending (and eventual repeat) Class A champion Falmouth and gave the Yachtsmen one of their closest matches of the season before falling in four sets. And then, Yarmouth didn’t lose again. The Clippers won their final 13 regular season matches, only losing six sets along the way. They twice beat Cape Elizabeth (3-0 and 3-2) and earned the top seed for the Class B playoffs, where they really turned heads.

Yarmouth wasn’t tested by Wells in the state quarterfinals, winning by a 3-0 score (25-3, 25-17, 25-10), as Dickson had 24 service points and Murray finished with seven kills. York made the Clippers work in the semifinals, but they again won, 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 26-24). To no one’s surprise, Yarmouth found Cape Elizabeth waiting in the state match and after producing a five-set epic in the 2018 final, the teams were expected to go the distance again, but the Clippers had other ideas. Yarmouth won the first set, 25-21, took the second, 25-18, then quashed any Capers’ comeback hopes by capturing the third game as well, 25-17, to win it, 3-0, and go back-to-back. Dickson led the way with 25 assists, while Murray had 13 kills (including the clincher) and Lukis added 12 kills. The Clippers ended the season on a 16-match win streak and they’re far from finished stealing headlines.

Coach Jim Senecal: “It’s sweet. 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). In middle school, these kids developed a passion for the game that continues today and many of them have played key roles in our back to back state championships.”

The Super Six

6) Greely Rangers, 16-0, 2011 Class A state champion

After its seven-year championship run came to a close in 2010, Greely bounced back in perfect fashion in 2011. The Rangers, led by Maggie Bradley, Danielle Cimino, Jordynne Copp, Catherine Fellows, Lexi Foster, Haleigh Roach, Emily Sampson and Ellie Weickert, reminded everyone that they were still the gold standard as they lost only five sets all season and returned to the pinnacle, winning a title for longtime assistant coach Bruce Churchill, who would pass away due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the following summer.

A 3-0 win over eventual Class B champion Yarmouth set the tone. Greely went four sets against Gorham, Scarborough, Falmouth and Scarborough again, but had enough to prevail each time and finished the regular season 14-0. The Rangers earned the top seed for the Class A tournament and quickly completed their return to the top.

After earning a bye into the state semifinals, Greely met Falmouth and beat the Yachtsmen in three sets, 26-24, 25-16, 25-12, as Bradley had 11 kills, Sampson 10 digs and Copp six blocks. That sent the Rangers directly to the state match where Scarborough was the final obstacle. Greely won the first set, 25-19, but dropped the second by the same score and suddenly found itself being tested, but the Rangers held on for a 25-21 victory in the third game, then did the same in the fourth for a 3-1 triumph. Bradley had 17 kills, Sampson added seven kills. Greely had the newly created Gold Ball trophy and had left no doubt that it was still the program all others measured themselves by.

Coach Kelvin Hasch: “I’m lucky I had a great team this year. Every player could hit. This one’s really sweet. We wanted it really bad for Bruce. (The girls) came in from day one setting the goal high. I was thinking maybe it shouldn’t be so high, but they wanted that goal and they achieved it. I’m so excited there’s finally a Gold Ball (trophy). When I saw that, I knew we had to win it. No one else should take it home.”

5) Scarborough Red Storm, 15-2, 2017 Class A state champion

Scarborough’s first championship run in 2015 came after a 9-5 regular season and caught the volleyball world by surprise. This one was another story, as the Red Storm overcame an Opening Night hiccup, then lived up to preseason billing as the team to beat. Scarborough, led by standout hitter Asia Mattress, as well as Ivy DiBiase, Marissa Edwards, Jamiyae Mattress, Laura Powell, Caelyn Sheil, Natalie Simonton and Faith Winslow, got more and more dominant as the season progressed and only dropped one set in its postseason surge to the title.

The Red Storm were stunned by upstart Deering in the season opener, falling in five games, but they turned around and ran off seven straight victories, including wins over Falmouth and Greely. After losing in straight sets to eventual Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough wouldn’t be beaten again, closing the regular season on a five-game win streak, giving coach Jon Roberts his 100th career victory in the finale, and winding up 12-2, good for second for the Class A state tournament. The Red Storm then steamrolled through the field en route to the title.

In the quarterfinals, Scarborough blanked feisty Thornton Academy (25-19, 25-11, 25-23). Biddeford was next and while the games were close, the Red Storm didn’t drop any of them (25-19, 25-17, 25-17). Scarborough hoped for a chance to avenge its regular season loss to Deering in the state match, but the Rams were upset by South Portland in their semifinals and as a result, the Red Storm were a prohibitive favorite against the Red Riots. Scarborough focused on the task at hand and took the first two games, 25-19 and 25-17. South Portland stayed alive with a 25-16 win in the third set, but the Red Storm closed it out in the fourth, 25-12, and had a 3-1 victory and their second title in three seasons. DiBiase produced 20 assists, freshman Mayne Gwyer had 10 assists, Asia Mattress added 11 kills, Simonton had 10 kills and Sheil contributed 13 service points. The championship match would prove to be the swan song for Roberts (who left to coach at St. Joseph’s College) and Asia Mattress (who moved out of state). It won’t prove to be Scarborough’s last title, however.

Coach Jon Roberts: “I just wanted this for the kids. I’m so proud of them. These kids sat behind the kids (from 2015 and 2016) for so long and they were really good and didn’t get to play. You root for them. They didn’t complain. They worked hard in practice for two years and didn’t get to see the court, so for them, it’s special.”

4) Falmouth Yachtsmen, 16-1, 2018 Class A state champion

The first of Falmouth’s back-to-back crowns over the past two years was a story of growth, as the Yachtsmen took some time adapting to Larry Nichols’ coaching before putting it all together when it mattered most. Falmouth, which had lost in the Class B state final in 2017, was led by transcendent hitter Annika Hester, as well as Gretchen Barney, Holly Barney, Hillary Bouchard, Katie Phillips, Rose Riversmith and Summer Spiegel, and it put on a show in the postseason.

The Yachtsmen won their first four matches, including a 3-0 win over Greely and a 3-1 victory over Scarborough, then was blanked by Cape Elizabeth in a state game rematch. A 3-1 victory over Yarmouth got Falmouth back on track and the Yachtsmen would close the regular season on a nine-match win streak, only dropping four games total in the run. At 13-1, Falmouth earned the top seed for the playoffs and set out to win its second Class A state championship and first in five seasons.

In the state quarterfinals, the Yachtsmen blanked Thornton Academy (25-18, 25-23, 25-12). Biddeford proved to be a challenge in the semifinals, but Falmouth advanced in four sets (25-17, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16), behind 33 kills from Hester and 13 service points apiece from Bouchard and Phillips. Undefeated Gorham awaited the Yachtsmen in the state match, but Falmouth made sure it wrapped up its championship in quick, tidy fashion, prevailing in three games (25-18, 25-17, 25-16), as Spiegel bowed out with a match for the ages (18 assists, 18 service points), Hester produced 17 kills, Phillips finished with eight kills and eight assists and Riversmith added seven blocks, including one on match point. The Yachtsmen had returned to the top of Class A and their reign was just beginning.

Coach Larry Nichols: “It means a lot. There was a lot of competition this  year, so I’m glad we could showcase our level of volleyball today when it mattered most. It’s been an interesting journey. Each week, the girls were different, which from a coach’s perspective, was terrifying and really great at the same time. There was some pressure to do well. We graduated seven, but the kids bought into the system, did their job and worked hard.”

3) Cape Elizabeth Capers, 17-0, 2017 Class B state champion

The Capers won their second championship in four years and this time, did so in perfect fashion, beating every powerhouse program along the way. Setter extraordinaire Maggie Dadmun and classmates Madeline Bauman, Madison Sarka and Anna Torre capped their superb high school career in style, while juniors Megan Connelly, Tess Dolan, Brooke Harvey and Kalie Manning and sophomore Jaya McClure also played huge roles in the team’s success.

Cape Elizabeth won its first four matches with relative ease, then faced a series of stern tests and passed every one. The Capers beat Yarmouth, Falmouth, Greely and York by 3-1 scores, then downed Scarborough in three games before outlasting Greely and Falmouth in five-set marathons. Cape Elizabeth closed with wins over Windham and Cony and wound up 14-0 and first in Class B. The Capers then embarked on a perfect run through the playoffs, not dropping a single set.

In the quarterfinals, Cape Elizabeth made quick work of Kennebunk (25-12, 25-14, 25-8). Tradition-rich Greely awaited in the semifinals, but again, the Capers won in three games (25-21, 25-12, 25-19). Heading into the state final versus Falmouth, the big story was that the match was being played on Cape Elizabeth’s home court. As it turned out, the Capers weren’t losing anywhere, as again they took care of business in three sets, 25-13, 29-27, 25-21. Dadmun bowed out with 20 assists and 11 service points, Connelly had 10 kills and Robicheaw added five blocks and five kills, including the one which punctuated the match. The best team in Cape Elizabeth history will rank as one of the best in state history as well.

Coach Sarah Boeckel: “I’m not usually emotional, but I’m having a hard time coming up with words to say how proud I am of this team. We weren’t nervous or worried. We’re not the biggest team, or maybe the best team, but we’re mentally tough and we love a long rally. Every time we won tight matches this year, I wondered if it would come back to bite us in playoffs, but it didn’t.”

2) Falmouth Yachtsmen, 17-0, 2019 Class A state champion

After going 16-1 and winning the Class A title in 2018, the 2019 Yachtsmen were even more dominant, so dominant in fact that they got the most votes in our Twitter poll. Falmouth, paced by the hitting prowess of Gatorade Player of the Year Annika Hester, as well as veterans Gretchen Barney, Holly Barney, Hillary Bouchard, Katie Phillips and Rose Riversmith, was only taken to five-sets once en route to a perfect season and a repeat championship.

The Yachtsmen survived defending (and eventual) Class B champion Yarmouth in four grueling sets in the opener, then enjoyed 3-0 wins over Cheverus, Bonny Eagle, Deering, Greely, Portland and Marshwood. Host Cape Elizabeth then gave Falmouth its biggest scare, taking a 2-sets-to-1 lead, but the Yachtsmen rallied to prevail in five games. The Yachtsmen had to go four-sets to defeat Scarborough and Gorham and blanked Biddeford, Brunswick, Windham and Thornton Academy to finish 14-0 for the first time and earn the top seed for the Class A tournament, where they achieved their date with championship destiny.

In the state quarterfinals, Falmouth made quick work of Marshwood, winning in three games (25-16, 25-6, 25-7). Windham gave the Yachtsmen a scare in the semifinals, taking the first set, 25-20, but Falmouth roared back to win the next three (25-8, 25-14, 25-14) to advance to the final. There, Scarborough awaited, but there would be no denying the Yachtsmen, who won the first two sets, 25-20 and 25-18, then, after dropping a close third game (23-25), they put it away with a 25-19 fourth set victory to take the match, 3-1, and finish a perfect 17-0, extending their two-season win streak to 29 matches in the process. Hester led the way with 30 kills, while Phillips had 20 assists and eight kills, Bouchard contributed 22 assists and Riversmith finished with eight blocks. Falmouth now has three state titles and there might be no end in sight for this Gold Ball-winning juggernaut.

Coach Larry Nichols: “Last year, we flew under the radar and that was like getting away with something, but this year, we were favored and I think we handled the pressure well. We had fun and the kids cared for each other. From the stars to the kids who didn’t play at all, everyone was great. This year, the challenge was to make not only other people, but our own team realize that yes, Annika is a special player, but that we have some other great players who complement her. The biggest challenge this year was those players recognizing how important they were. You can’t win a title with one kid.”

1) Greely Rangers, 17-0, 2016 Class A state champion

The nearly perfect champion. Through 14 regular season matches, Greely, still stinging from an upset loss to Scarborough in the previous year’s state match, didn’t drop a single set. Now that’s consistency. The Rangers, paced by standout Kayley Cimino, as well as Sara Agren, Molly Chapin, Jane Grandchamp, libero Coco Petrone and Morgan Selby, who joined the program after moving in from out of state, finally found themselves having to play longer matches in the postseason, but still went on to complete their 10th and most recent championship season, one simply without peer.

Greely got a chance to avenge its state match loss in the opener and the Rangers swept Scarborough (25-22, 25-15, 25-15) to set the tone. In fact, Greely went scorched earth and completely took apart all comers, not only winning by 3-0 margins, but in fact, few of the sets were even close. The Rangers were pushed a bit by Falmouth, but prevailed, 25-16, 25-23, 25-23, and went on to finish 14-0 and earn the top seed for the Class A tournament. While Greely finally met a little adversity in the playoffs, that didn’t stop the Rangers from going on to capture the title.

Gorham was up first in the state quarterfinals and for two sets, it was more of the same, as Greely won, 25-16, 25-17, but in the third game, the Rams staggered the Rangers with a 25-21 victory, ending their consecutive set win streak at a mind-boggling 44. Greely quickly responded, however, and took the fourth set, 25-9, and the match, 3-1, as Cimino had 15 kills and 14 assists, Agren added 10 service points and seven kills and Chapin had 10 kills and nine service points. Falmouth then staggered Greely in the semifinals, winning the first set, 25-16, but the Rangers again responded like the champions they’d become, taking the next three games, 25-12, 25-16, 25-14, to set up a highly-anticipated rematch with Scarborough in the state final. There, Greely started fast with a 25-20 first set victory and a 25-8 triumph in the second game, but the Red Storm answered and won the third set, 25-18. The Rangers possessed one last surge of excellence and took the fourth game, 25-20, to win the match, 3-1, and the state title. Cimino bowed out with 18 service points (including 16 in a row in the second set), 15 kills and 11 assists, Selby added 17 assists and Agren finished with seven kills, while Chapin had six. It was utter dominance from start to finish. We’ll likely never again see a team run roughshod over the opposition quite like the 2016 Greely Rangers.

Coach Kelvin Hasch: “To run the (regular) season (without losing a set) was a feat in itself. I never thought we’d do that in the tournament. Kayley’s quickness and knowledge of the game set her apart. She can read a ball and get to the ball. All the seniors, even the ones who didn’t play much, were huge. They all played so hard in practice. I’m so proud of them.”

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

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