Biddeford Coach Ruth Shaw, center, celebrates with her team after a win against Portland on Tuesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

BIDDEFORD — Biddeford’s volleyball captains – seniors Baylor Wilkinson, Laura Perreault and Charlotte Donovan and junior Danielle Emerson – came close to winning a state championship last season. This year, they share a single-minded determination to help the Tigers win their first volleyball title since 2010.

Biddeford won its first 17 matches last fall and advanced to the Class A final as the top seed. The Tigers battled for more than two hours against No. 2 Scarborough, only to lose in five sets.

“We’ve watched the tape from that match. I’ve watched that game tape (alone) over and over and over,” Donovan said. 

This summer and during the preseason, the four captains rallied the team to do more in the weight room. They worked the team in captains’ practices and did more drills than ever with Biddeford Coach Ruth Shaw.

And when Shaw drills her team, her veteran players said she is relentless. When anyone makes a mistake, practice stops for a quick refresher on how to avoid errors and attain superior play on the court.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating,” Wilkinson admitted.


“She’s pushed us out of our comfort zone,” Perreault added. 

Donovan said the heightened level of training also builds character, the kind needed for a state championship team. Donovan relishes the thought of ending her high school volleyball career with a state title.

Biddeford junior Danielle Emerson sets the ball during a match against Portland on Tuesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“It’s difficult to fail in front of your teammates. But it helps you realize your team supports you and they’re behind you,” Donovan said.

The Biddeford captains know others are calling their squad the team to beat, and they’re fine with that. Many southern Maine coaches refer to Emerson as the best player in the state.

Last season, Emerson tallied 155 kills, 74 aces and 33 digs. Donovan racked up 54 aces, 98 kills and 165 digs; Perreault added 64 aces, 45 kills and 138 digs; and Wilkinson had 42 blocks, 68 kills and 76 digs.

In Biddeford’s first match this season, a 3-0 win over Portland on Tuesday, Emerson stood out with 10 aces and 12 kills.


Shaw called Perreault a “tough-as-nails player,” and noted that she is a class president and a member of former Sen. Olympia Snowe’s Women’s Leadership Institute – and a leader on and off the court. Shaw said Perreault has a knack for pulling the Tigers from behind in tough games.

The coach called Wilkinson a dynamic playmaker who can turn the tide of a game.

“Baylor was our No. 1 blocker and tipper. She would find a hole a large percentage of the time and place it with great accuracy,” Shaw said. “We are starting right where we left off. They have been chomping at the bit and ready to go.”

Looking back, Shaw said there was tremendous pressure on her squad last year. But now that they’ve lived through the intense expectations that come with an undefeated regular season, there’s nothing left to do except try to finish off their title quest. 

“That experience and being a senior, that makes a big difference,” Shaw said. “I’m not saying the juniors (last year) were not giving it their all. It’s just different when they are seniors. They have this burning, intense desire to get this done.”

Several coaches in southern Maine listed Scarborough and Biddeford as the front runners in Class A, but all of them gave the nod to the Tigers.


“I think the best team is Biddeford,” said Yarmouth Coach Jim Senecal, who has led his Class B squad to six titles in the past 10 postseasons. “We had an opportunity to scrimmage Biddeford this preseason and they were really solid. They do not let the ball hit the floor. The thing about Biddeford, it’s really hard to distinguish player No. 1 from No. 6. They may be the team outworking everyone else.”

Certainly, Scarborough will be a formidable, having won three of the last six Class A titles. But even Red Storm Coach Kim Stoddard said Biddeford is the favorite. 

“I think it will be tough,” Shaw countered. “I’m not taking anything for granted, even though we have a lot of returning players. We still have to play exceptionally well. But experience doesn’t always win games. It’s who shows up to play.”

The Biddeford captains said they realize now that they lost to Scarborough because the Red Storm played a tougher offensive game, even though Biddeford brought a challenging defensive game. Now, Biddeford is focusing more on its hitting and passing, and working on  “trick plays,” Emerson said. 

“I won’t say what those are, because this is going in the newspaper,” Emerson said with a laugh. “But we are working on being a tougher offensive team.”

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