Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team celebrates the final point of Saturday’s 3-0 win at Falmouth. Hoffer photos.

FALMOUTH—All good things must end and Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team was more than happy to bring the three-year, 31-match win streak of the Falmouth Navigators to a halt Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to a dominant performance from start to finish.

The Capers never trailed in the first set and prevailed, 25-17, as senior setter and captain Maeve McQueeney had a half dozen assists.

In the second game, senior captain Anneliese Rudberg ran off nine straight service points to break it open and Cape Elizabeth won, 25-9.

Falmouth, the two-time reigning Class A state champion, held a momentarily lead in the final set, but again, the Capers opened it up and pulled away and captured the match in straight sets by virtue of a 25-19 victory.

Cape Elizabeth needed just over an hour to improve to 3-1 on the season and in the process, hand the Navigators their first loss in nearly three calendar years and drop them to 2-1.

“It feels good to beat anybody,” said Capers coach Sarah Boeckel. “The kids are psyched. It feels really good to be back. It’s awesome to have practice every day and have matches.”

Two of the best

Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth have been as good as anyone in recent seasons, with the now-Navigators winning Class A titles in both 2018 and 2019 and the Capers getting to the Class B Final in both of those years before losing to Yarmouth.

In both 2014 (Class A) and 2017 (Class B), Cape Elizabeth beat Falmouth in the state final match.

After missing out on the 2020 campaign, both the Capers and Navigators are fired up to return to action this season.

Cape Elizabeth started by beating visiting Gray-New Gloucester in straight sets and won at Greely, 3-1, before falling at home to nemesis Yarmouth Thursday, 3-1.

“That wasn’t our best play and (Yarmouth) made fewer mistakes than we did and they deserved to win,” Boeckel said.

Falmouth, meanwhile, started with a 3-0 win at Cheverus, then downed visiting Bonny Eagle, 3-1, Thursday for its 31st straight match victory.

The teams last met Sept. 30, 2019, a thrilling five-set road win for Falmouth.

Entering play, Falmouth had won 11 of 17 all-time meetings.

Saturday, the newly-dubbed Navigators hoped to do it again, but instead, the Capers handed them their first loss since a 3-0 setback at Cape Elizabeth Sept. 18, 2018.

The Capers scored the first two points of the match and quickly took leads of 6-1 (on a kill from junior Madalynn Vaine, 7-2 (on a kill from Rudberg) and 10-2 (on another Rudberg kill). Falmouth crept back within 11-5 before Cape Elizabeth made it 15-6. A block from senior Mackenzie Nichols pulled the hosts within 15-9, but they could draw no closer. An ace from senior Anastasia Chepurko pushed the lead to 23-14 and after a kill from senior Emily Charest and a Nichols block, the next point went to the Capers. A Nichols block kept the Navigators alive, but Falmouth hit the ball out on the next point and Cape Elizabeth had the jump with a 25-17 win.

Falmouth junior Victoria Abbott goes up for a kill.

Nichols had five blocks in the first game, but four Rudberg kills were too much to overcome.

The second set began tighter, but eventually, the Capers pulled away.

An ace from McQueeney helped Cape Elizabeth started fast again. The Navigators did manage to tie the set at 2-2, 5-5 and 7-7, but a kill from Rudberg put the Capers on top for good. Vaine added a pair of aces to make it 11-7 and after a Falmouth service fault made it 12-8 Cape Elizabeth, Rudberg stepped to the service line. By the time she was done, the ’12’ under the Capers score read ’21.’ Rudberg had nine straight service points, including three aces, and along the way, she got help from kills from Rasco and junior Maddie Simopolous.

“That happens sometimes,” said Rudberg, of her service run. “My teammates helped bring up my energy.”

“That’s the best we’ve seen (Annaliese) serve consistently,” said Boeckel. “You get a few under your belt and you get more confident and aggressive.”

After Falmouth got a point back, ending the run, McQueeney and Rasco had consecutive kills and at set point, the Navigators couldn’t return the ball, giving the Capers a 25-9 win and a commanding 2-0 lead.

Cape Elizabeth junior Maddy Simopolous serves the ball.

The Navigators refused to go quietly in the third game, but Cape Elizabeth was able to close it out.

The Capers got the first two points, punctuated by a McQueeney kill, but three straight points gave Falmouth its first lead of the match. The Navigators also went up, 5-4, but that’s as good as it would get for the hosts. With the game tied, 8-8, Cape Elizabeth got consecutive points to go ahead to stay. Falmouth got as close as 15-14, but McQueeney scored consecutive points, Chepurko had a pair of kills, including one on a lengthy point, then Rudberg added a kill to open it up to 22-14. The Navigators crept back to 23-18 on a kill from Charest, but after the teams traded service faults, a kill from junior captain Amy Rasco ended it and the Capers had the third set, 25-19, and the match in just over an hour, 3-0.

“It’s really nice to be playing,” Rudberg said. “I missed the game last year. We have a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new faces and it’s great to jell as a team. We were proud of ourselves for not allowing runs. It’s a new Falmouth team, but we want to challenge every team with what we’ve got.”

“We’re very different from the last time we saw Falmouth and Falmouth’s struggling with some injuries and still figuring it out,” Boeckel said. “Defensively we’re strong, and offensively, we have a lot of hitters on the court, a lot of options for Maeve.”

McQueeney finished with 19 assists and six service points.

“Maeve’s a great setter,” Rudberg said. “She has great hands and she serves up awesome balls. She’s a vital player for us.”

Rudberg had 11 service points and seven kills.

Vaine had nine service points, Simopolous added six service points and Rasco had six kills and five service points.

For Falmouth, Nichols led the way with five blocks, four service points and three kills.

Charest added five kills.

“You can’t give Cape anything,” said Navigators coach Larry Nichols. “Cape is scrappy and they play great defense. Unfortunately, at a couple critical times, we couldn’t push over the top and they had long service runs. We’re a work in progress and we’re getting people back in the lineup. Communication was an issue today. We’re trying to fill in the holes, but some of the mistakes we made in previous matches weren’t as evident today. We had a couple of in-set adjustments we followed through with, which doesn’t always happen with a young team. The understanding goes up each week.

“It’s been a good run. The kids know we lost three dominant seniors, but that there’s a tradition with the program and they want to get back to something like that. That’s a great feeling to have as a coach.”

The fun continues

Falmouth is at rival Greely Tuesday as it hopes to bounce back, then it goes to Portland Friday.

“All the matches seem tough this year, but we’re tickled to have a season,” Nichols said. “I try to keep that mind. Where we end up in October is hopefully not where we are right now.”

Cape Elizabeth faces another daunting test Monday when Class A favorite Scarborough pays a visit. Friday, the Capers host Wells.

“I think things are going great,” Rudberg said. “We hope to improve every match as we go through the season. We’ll take a rest day, then we’ll come back firing on Monday.”

“It’s a tough turnaround with Scarborough Monday,” Boeckel said. “They have plenty of weapons. We have to block better and be smarter with the ball than we were today. I don’t think we’re peaking yet and I think we’re getting better every day.”

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

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