YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s volleyball team might be small, but are the Clippers ever mighty.

And they never, ever give up on a point.

Up against a tall, powerful Scarborough squad Thursday evening, Yarmouth’s scrappiness proved to be the difference in a compelling battle of unbeaten teams.

Teams that might just go on to win their respective state titles late next month.

The two-time reigning Class B state champion Clippers, behind a timely kill and ace from sophomore Annie Vinnakota, scored the final three points of the first set and eked out a 25-23 victory.

In the second game, Yarmouth held on for dear life to prevail, 25-22.

Not surprisingly, the Red Storm, behind their powerful hitting game, roared back to take the third set, 25-15.

The Clippers then had Scarborough on the brink in the fourth game, but couldn’t close out a pair of match points before. Then, in a dose of controversy, a call went the hosts’ way and Yarmouth won the set, 25-23, and took the match, 3-1.

The Clippers improved to 6-0 on the season, extended their win streak to 21 matches and in the process, handed the Red Storm their first setback in six outings in the process.

“Scarborough’s a great team, but all season long, we’ve exceeded my expectations,” said longtime Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. “I’m really shocked and surprised how great this team has stuck together and how well we’ve played. I’m thrilled we won this tonight.”

Championship dreams

Yarmouth won Class B titles in both 2018 and 2019 and would have been the favorite again had COVID not wiped out the 2020 season. The Clippers haven’t missed a beat this autumn, opening with a four-set win at Cape Elizabeth, then downing visiting Greely, host Gray-New Gloucester, visiting South Portland and host Cheverus in three-games.

Scarborough, meanwhile, got to the 2019 Class A state final only to lose to Falmouth. After a promising season was lost a year ago, the Red Storm have emerged as the Class A favorite this fall, beating visiting Windham, host Bonny Eagle and visiting Cheverus by 3-0 scores, then out-lasting host Cape Elizabeth and Gorham in five-game thrillers.

The teams last met Oct. 5, 2019, a 3-1 home win for the Clippers.

Thursday, in front of a vocal crowd, Scarborough hoped to beat Yarmouth for the first time since the 2016 Class A state semifinals, but instead the Clippers managed to do just enough to extend their win streak.

The first game featured nine ties and four lead changes. The Red Storm had four different one-point leads, but Yarmouth was on top most of the way.

A pair of aces from junior Bri Torres broke a 7-7 tie and an ace and another service point from senior setter Sophie Dickson made it 13-9. The Clippers went up by as much as 20-16, but Scarborough crept back and pulled even at 22-22 on kills from seniors Maddie Strouse and Gwen Dorsey. When Strouse followed with an ace, the Red Storm were poised to steal the set, but Vinnakota answered with a kill, then served up an ace before Scarborough hit the ball out and Yarmouth had a 25-23 first game victory.

In that set, Dickson, Torres and Vinnakota all had three service points, negating five kills from Strouse, five kills from Dorsey and seven assists from senior setter Mya Jones.

The second game would be tight as well, although the Clippers never trailed.

An ace from Dickson opened up a quick 3-0 lead and after the Red Storm drew within a point three different times, senior Elena Miller had a kill and senior Tristen Rogers served up successive aces. Scarborough refused to wilt and made it 13-11 on a kill from sophomore Olivia Smith before a kill from junior Dorcas Bolese made it 19-13 Yarmouth. A block from senior Elisabeth LeFebvre drew the Red Storm within 20-17, but the visitors barely hit the ball out on the next point. A kill from Miller made it 24-19 Clippers and set up set point, but a service fault, a LeFebvre block and a Strouse kill pulled Scarborough within two. Then, out of a timeout, Yarmouth finished it on a Miller kill to take the game, 25-22, and a 2-0 lead in the match.

Dickson had six assists and four service points, while Rogers had a pair of aces. The Red Storm got four blocks and two kills from Strouse and four blocks from LeFebvre, but dug a deep hole.

To no one’s surprise, Scarborough battled back to take the third set with relative ease.

The Red Storm never trailed and raced to an 8-2 lead behind a pair of kills from Dorsey and an ace and a kill from Strouse. The Clippers battled back and erased a six-point deficit to tie it, 10-10, behind kills from Bolese and Dickson and an ace from Rogers, but a service fault put Scarborough on top to stay. After the Red Storm went up by four, Yarmouth drew within 15-13, but a kill from freshman sparkplug Natalie Moynihan and a pair of aces from Jones made it 18-13. The Clippers got the next point, but Strouse had a kill, Moynihan served up an ace and Scarborough got the next two points as well to make it 22-14. After Yarmouth countered with a  point, Strouse had a kill, the Red Storm got the next point, then the Clippers hit the ball into the net to give the game to Scarborough, 25-15, cutting Yarmouth’s lead in the match to 2-1.

Strouse led the way with five service points and three kills, Jones had five assists and a pair of aces, Dorsey added three service points and three kills, while Moynihan contributed four service points.

“Natalie doesn’t play like a freshman,” said Scarborough coach Kim Stoddard.

The fourth set would be critical, as the Red Storm had the momentum, but the Clippers were bound and determined not to allow the match to go the distance.

It wouldn’t.

Scarborough shot to a quick 5-2 lead behind a kill and an ace from Moynihan, but Yarmouth would settle down and tie it, 6-6 and 7-7, before a Torres ace produced the lead. The Red Storm drew even at 8-8, then 9-9, on a Strouse kill, but Dickson answered with a kill, McClafferty served up three aces and Miller added a kill for a 14-9 lead. Out of a timeout, Scarborough roared back to tie it, 15-15 (after a long volley) and 16-16, before a Red Storm service fault gave the Clippers the lead for good.

“We need to minimize our service errors,” said Stoddard.

After Yarmouth went up, 19-16, Scarborough crept back to 19-18, but a kill from Dickson made it 21-18. A service fault and an ace from LeFebvre pulled the Red Storm within one at 21-20, but a service fault stemmed the tide. After Moynihan had a kill to again pull Scarborough within a point, the Red Storm served the ball out and McClafferty had one more ace to put the Clippers on the brink of victory.

But out of a timeout, Scarborough made things very interesting, as after Yarmouth couldn’t get the ball over, Dorsey had a kill. Strouse then appeared to block a shot to extend the game and the match, but the ball was ruled to have landed out of bounds and the Clippers survived with a 25-23 victory to win the match in four sets.

“(Scarborough) blocked it and (the ball) landed out of bounds, at least that’s what (the official) said and that’s all that matters,” said Senecal.

Not surprisingly, the Red Storm saw that final point differently.

“We’ll argue until our last breath that it was in, but we can’t change the call,” said Stoddard.

Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal, left, and his team celebrate after the final point. Hoffer photo.

Yarmouth then celebrated its biggest victory to date.

“After not being able to have a regular season last year, this means a lot to us,” said McClafferty, who had seven service points, including four aces, as well as three kills. “I think our defense was tremendous today. Scarborough has a great offense, but our blocking was incredible. We just kept the ball off the floor. Momentum is huge for us. When we got it, it was big.”

“You can see how undersized we are, but we scrambled, played fantastic in the back row and our passing was great,’ Senecal said. “Our outside hitters were fantastic too. It feels good and gives these kids a lot of confidence. We changed the kind of team we are. We’re definitely a different team this year. We still think we have strength with our hitters, but when you go against size like that, it’s tough.”

Dickson finished with 15 assists, seven service points and four timely kills, Vinnakota had six service points and five kills, Rogers nine service points, Miller seven kills, Torres six service points and Bolese four kills.

Scarborough was paced by Strouse, who had 13 kills, 11 service points and five blocks, Jones added 21 assists and seven service points, Dorsey 11 kills and five service points, sophomore Julia Strouse 10 assists, Moynihan 10 service points and five kills and LeFebvre 10 blocks.

“We knew we’d have to play a perfect game to beat Yarmouth,” Stoddard said. “Their defense is something else. I told my hitters they’d have to score twice because they’d dig everything and that was true. My hitters crushed the ball tonight. Its tough to crawl out of a 2-0 hole against a team like that. They wouldn’t let up. This is great for us. This is the experience we want to have. Having to come back is great. We know we can crawl our way back.”

Back to class

Scarborough has one more big road test upcoming, at Biddeford Monday. On Wednesday, the Red Storm return home to meet Marshwood.

“A big focus for the whole team is building up everyone’s confidence so we can be where we want to be at the end,” said Stoddard. “It’s cool to expose our weaknesses against a fantastic Yarmouth team that we won’t see again in the playoffs. We have practice tomorrow and again Saturday to get ready for Monday.”

Yarmouth has two tough road tests next week, playing at Greely Monday and at two-time reigning Class A champion Falmouth Wednesday.

“Playing united as a team is a big thing,” McClafferty said. “We work hard and communicate well. We have to keep bringing it to every practice. It’s amazing playing with these girls as a senior.”

“Greely’s playing a lot better,” Senecal said. “They’re very strong. Our schedule going forward is very tough. We just want to play good teams right now to stay sharp.”

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

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