SCARBOROUGH—One way or another, whether it ends in jubilation or tears, this is the final week that Scarborough’s volleyball team will play together.

And the Red Storm are bound and determined to extend their season to the final day.

Monday evening at Alumni Gymnasium, second-seeded Scarborough got much more than it bargained for from No. 10 Thornton Academy in a Class A state quarterfinal, but with the match on the line, it was the Red Storm’s precision serving that allowed them to survive and advance.

Scarborough appeared bound to an easy win when it scored the match’s first seven points and took the first game by a decisive 25-9 margin, but the proud and valiant Golden Trojans battled back in the second set, fought off a set point and prevailed, 27-25, to tie things up.

The Red Storm’s accuracy at the line then broke open a close third game and thanks to 13 aces, including one from freshman Natalie Moynihan on set point, Scarborough won the pivotal game, 25-17.

The Red Storm then opened up a 17-6 lead in the fourth set, but Thornton Academy refused to go quietly, getting as close as 20-17 before Scarborough closed it out, 25-19, and took the match, 3-1.

The Red Storm improved to 14-2 on the year, ended the Golden Trojans’ season at 8-8 and in the process, advanced to host the state semifinal round Thursday against either third-seeded Gorham (12-3) or No. 6 Sanford/Noble (9-4).

“They gave us a battle, but we fought through it,” said Scarborough coach Kim Stoddard. “We’re resilient. Our theme all season is to trust each other and be confident. We’ve earned our way here. We’ve had some tough battles, but we know what we can do.”

Storm surge

Scarborough has certainly saved its best volleyball for the most ideal time, entering Monday’s contest on an eight-match win streak, all by 3-0 scores. The Red Storm started with straight set victories over visiting Windham, host Bonny Eagle and visiting Cheverus. Scarborough then out-lasted host Cape Elizabeth and Gorham in five-game thrillers before suffering its two losses, at two-time reigning Class B champion Yarmouth (3-1) and at Biddeford (3-1). The Red Storm then hit their stride and swept visiting Marshwood, Kennebunk, Massabesic and Falmouth, host South Portland, visiting Deering and host Falmouth to finish the regular season.

Friday, in the state preliminary round, Scarborough eliminated No. 15 Massabesic by a 3-0 score.

Thornton Academy, meanwhile, started 1-2, 2-3 and 4-6 before closing with three wins in four matches.

Saturday, in their prelim, the Golden Trojans had to go the distance to survive No. 7 Hampden Academy, 3-2, to advance.

The teams didn’t meet this season.

Scarborough took both prior playoff encounters, each time en route to a state title, 3-1 in the 2015 Class A quarterfinals and 3-0 in the 2017 state quarterfinals.

Monday, the Red Storm appeared to have a stranglehold on the match early, but Thornton Academy rallied and made quite a statement before going down to defeat.

Scarborough set the tone on the first point, as Jones set up senior Maddie Strouse for a powerful kill, then Jones went to the service line and served up three straight aces for a 5-0 lead, forcing Golden Trojans coach Corey Huot to call timeout.

Scarborough senior Mya Jones serves up one of her 12 aces in Monday’s victory. Hoffer photos.

It didn’t help, as Jones fired another ace, then sophomore Alana Sawyer had a kill to make it 7-0. Only a service fault ended the run, but a block from senior Elisabeth LeFebvre, an ace from Strouse and another point extended the lead to 12-2, forcing Huot to try calling timeout again.

Thornton Academy crept back within 12-5 on a block from senior Summer Mackell, but the next seven points went to the hosts, highlighted by a pair of kills from senior Gwen Dorsey and another from LeFebvre. The Golden Trojans rallied to make it 19-8, but LeFebvre had a kill and a block, Moynihan delivered a kill and another point pushed the lead to 23-8. A service fault gave Thornton Academy a point back, but the Golden Trojans returned the favor, then LeFebvre’s kill closed out the set, 25-9.

In the first game, Jones had four aces and five assists, Sawyer added five service points, Dorsey had four and LeFebvre finished with two blocks and three kills.

The second game would be an entirely different story.

For starters, Thornton Academy won the first two points, then, after Scarborough went back on top on back-to-back aces from Moynihan, the score was tied 3-3, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 (on a Sawyer kill), 9-9 (on a LeFebvre kill), 10-10 (on a Moynihan kill), 11-11 and 12-12 (on another Sawyer kill), but a kill from junior Kiley Mackell put the Golden Trojans ahead and another Kiley Mackell kill and a pair of aces from senior Kayla Faucher made it 17-13. A kill from senior Savannah Hunter put Thornton Academy ahead, 20-14, forcing Stoddard to call timeout.

It didn’t help initially, as the Golden Trojans held a 22-17 lead, but Moynihan had a kill, then Strouse served an ace and Moynihan had a block to cut the deficit to two. After a Red Storm fault, Strouse and senior Gwen Dorsey countered with kills to make it a one-point score, but Scarborough hit the ball out to set up double set point for Thornton Academy. Strouse kept her team alive with a kill, then LeFebvre tied it with another kill. When Strouse followed with an ace, the Red Storm had a 25-24 lead and set point of their own, but senior Jaeli MacDonald countered with a kill to tie it, Summer Mackell had a block to set up another set point and this time, the Golden Trojans closed it out, 27-25, when Scarborough hit the ball out and the match was tied.

“They came out really strong,” said Jones. “We weren’t expecting such aggressive serves. When we were faced with something we weren’t expecting, we let up. We got a little nervous, since it’s a win-or-go-home situation and we want to play as long as we can.”

“They caught us on our heels in the second game after we came out with a vengeance in the first game,” Stoddard said. “When they kept sending it over, we struggled a little bit.”

Faucher had four service points and Kiley Mackell added three service points, two blocks and two kills, helping negate nine assists from Jones, four service points from Strouse and three service points and three kills from Moynihan.

The third set saw Thornton Academy threaten to take control of the match, but the Red Storm refused to buckle.

The Golden Trojans staggered Scarborough by winning the first five points, behind Hunter’s service, highlighted by kills from Faucher and Kiley Mackell and a block from Faucher. The game then turned after Thornton Academy junior Kaitlynn Paradis had to leave with a leg injury which stopped play for several minutes.

Strouse got the Red Storm going with a kill, then Jones served up three straight aces. A block from Faucher put the Golden Trojans ahead, 7-4, but a service fault brought Moynihan to the stripe and after a Strouse kill, Moynihan had three straight aces for a 9-7 lead. A kill from Kiley Mackell tied it, 9-9, but Stroouse had a kill, then an ace, before a LeFebvre block made it 12-9. Thornton Academy again rallied to tie it, 12-12, on an ace from Kiley Mackell, but a Sawyer kill gave Scarborough the lead for good, then Sawyer served up consecutive aces for a 15-12 lead.

The visitors crept back within one at 15-14 and 16-15 (on a kill from senior Lydia Highbarger), but a service fault and a LeFebvre ace made it 18-15. A fault got a point back for the Golden Trojans, but Strouse had a kill and an ace from Jones stretched the lead to 22-16. A Kiley Mackell block kept hope alive for Thornton Academy, but the Golden Trojans hit the ball out, then Moynihan had consecutive aces to wrap up the 25-17 set victory and give Scarborough a 2-1 lead.

The Red Storm had 13 aces out of their 25 points, as Moynihan led the way with a half dozen and Jones added four, to go with four assists.

“I think we just stayed more confident serving,” said Jones. “We just wanted to focus on the serves and take it from there. I take a lot of pride in serving. It’s something I’ve worked on a lot to get comfortable with.”

“When we serve the ball in, it’s a hard ball,” Stoddard said. “I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of Mya’s serve.”

Scarborough never trailed in the fourth game, but just when it appeared it was going to close it out with ease, the Golden Trojans made it challenging.

Jones picked up where she left off with seven straight service points to start things off, including three aces. Thornton Academy rallied within 9-5 on a kill from Kiley Mackell, but Dorsey countered with a kill. The Golden Trojans trailed 11-6 before the Red Storm rattled off six straight points, featuring a kill from Dorsey, another from LeFebvre and a block from LeFebvre, to open up a seemingly safe 17-6 advantage. Thornton Academy wouldn’t quit and crept back to 17-10, then 19-16, after a five-point run, highlighted by an ace from Hunter.

But Scarborough had no interest in letting the match go the distance and wouldn’t be denied.

After a Moynihan kill, the Golden Trojans got a point back, but immediately faulted. The Red Storm got the next two points for a 23-17 lead, forcing Huot to call timeout and Thornton Academy promptly drew within four on a Kiley Mackell kill, but that would be its final point of the season, as Sawyer had a kill, then the Golden Trojans hit the ball into the net, giving Scarborough the 25-19 win in game four and a 3-1 match victory.

Scarborough celebrates its 3-1 win over Thornton Academy.

“I knew nothing about (Thornton Academy) coming in and I was very impressed,” Jones said. “We came together finally as a team and dug down deep and wanted to finish strong and that’s what we did.”

Jones finished with 21 service points, including a dozen aces, and also dished out 25 assists.

Moynihan had nine service points, including seven aces, and six kills.

Strouse had 11 service points and nine powerful kills.

“We can hit the ball hard and move it around,” said Stoddard. “If you give Maddie the ball, we’re going to score a lot. Our passing, led by Natalie, is just fantastic.”

Sawyer added nine service points and seven kills, Dorsey had 11 service points and seven kills, LeFebvre finished with seven kills and five blocks and sophomore Julia Strouse tallied nine assists.

Thornton Academy was led by Kiley Mackell, who had seven service points, seven kills, five assists and three blocks.

Hunter finished with 11 service points, Summer Mackell had seven blocks, MacDonald added six service points and Faucher tallied seven service points and four kills.

Two more steps

The Red Storm edged host Gorham in a five-set classic (25-23, 25-22, 16-25, 22-25, 15-9) Sept. 16. The teams have played five previous times in the postseason, with Scarborough holding a 3-2 edge, thanks to a thrilling 3-2 victory in the 2019 Class A state semifinals.

“We know Gorham,” said Jones. “We’ve played against them forever. We know how they play and we’d be very prepared to play them.”

“(If we play Gorham), the ball won’t hit the ball and we have to make it hard on them.” said Stoddard. “Their defense is great and our hitters will have to pick their spots.”

The Red Storm did not face Sanford/Noble in the regular season and the teams have no postseason history.

A victory in the semifinals would send Scarborough to the state match for the seventh time since 2011 and give the Red Storm an opportunity to join the 2015 and 2017 squads as champions.

“We just need to stick together and stay confident and keep pushing all the way through,” Jones said. “Having home court advantage is very nice.”

“We just need to be relentless,” Stoddard said. “This team is really close and gets along really well. It’s awesome to see. We don’t talk about it being the last week even if it is.”

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

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