YARMOUTH —  Perfection didn’t come easy.

In fact, Yarmouth, the top seed playing on its home court and seeking a third consecutive Class B state championship, played from behind almost the whole match against a determined Cape Elizabeth team in the state final on Monday.

But despite trailing in the match 1-0 and 2-1, and being down four points early in the winner-take-all fifth set, the Clippers found a way to win it, thanks to some huge plays from their seniors. They also got a huge assist from an underclassman secret weapon.

Yarmouth rallied from a 6-2 deficit in the final game for a 15-10 victory, clinching it on a kill from sophomore Annie Vinnakota, capping a 17-0 campaign and winning the sixth Gold Ball in program history.

“To be honest, this team has so much exceeded my expectations,” said Clippers Coach Jim Senecal. “I’m really surprised and so proud of them. They did a great job.”

Cape Elizabeth dug an early hole in the first game, then roared back to make a powerful opening statement, erasing deficits of 6-1 and 12-3, closing on a 22-6 run for a 25-18 victory, capped by a kill from Annaliese Rudberg (22 kills in the match).


It was the Clippers’ turn to rally in the second set. They fell behind 15-8 before standout setter Sophie Dickson (10 assists) started setting up Elena Miller (five kills in the set) and Allie McClafferty’s service run helped open up a lead. With the score 24-21, Dickson set up Miller for a kill and the match was even.

The pivotal third set was dominated by Capers setter Maeve McQueeny (13 assists) and senior captain Amy Rasco, who had nine kills. Cape Elizabeth scored the first three points, never trailed, and opened up leads of 13-7, 19-12 and 23-16 before a Rasco kill set up set point. Yarmouth hit the ball out to end it, 25-16.

The Clippers then erased an early 8-5 deficit and rolled to victory in the fourth set. Miller’s long service run, eight assists from Dickson and five kills from Vinnakota, whose kill set up set point before McClafferty’s ace sent the match to the fifth and final set.

Where Yarmouth did just enough to celebrate.

A kill from Madalynn Vaine put the Capers on top 6-2, but the Clippers rallied to tie it on four different occasions before Dickson caught the defense off guard with a kill to put Yarmouth ahead to stay. Two kills from Tristen Rogers set up championship point. Then Dickson, who produced her 38th assist of the night, on her final high school set, passed to Vinnakota, who didn’t make great contact, but did enough to send the ball over the net for the clincher.

“I subbed in and Sophie looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to set you.’ It was a little low for a set, but I just tried to put it somewhere where they couldn’t get it,” said Vinnakota, who finished with 12 kills.

“Cape’s a great team,” said Dickson. “We pulled it out at the end. I have no idea how we did it. I think our unity as a team was the difference at the end.”

Cape Elizabeth (12-5) played valiantly and left Coach Sarah Boeckel with far more pride than disappointment.

“We always say we want to walk off the court with no regrets and we did,” Boeckel said. “That’s the best match we played all season. I’ll take that effort any day of the week. We were out there to give our all, be super disciplined and play to win. And that’s what we did.”

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