SCARBOROUGH—This time, Scarborough couldn’t complete the comeback.

But the Red Storm came pretty darn close.

Tuesday evening at Alumni Gymnasium, the Red Storm hosted rival Gorham in a midseason showdown and less than two weeks after rallying from a two-set deficit to beat the host Rams in five games, Scarborough again extended the match to max, but didn’t quite have another breathtaking rally in it.

The Red Storm started strongly this time around, winning the first set, 25-22, but Gorham responded and won the second and third by 25-21 scores. The Rams even had one match point in the fourth game, but Scarborough battled back and prevailed, 26-24.

The Red Storm took an 8-6 lead midway through the decisive fifth set, but Gorham closed strong and thanks to an emphatic kill from senior Meryk Lewellen, took the game, 15-12, and the match, 3-2.

The Rams improved to 4-2, dropped Scarborough to 4-2 and both teams (and their fans) left the gym hoping there will be an act three in the playoffs.


“I think we’re pretty evenly matched,” said Red Storm first-year coach Nicole Petherbridge. “We know their strengths and they know ours. It was back-and-forth the whole time. Both teams made adjustments on the fly.”

Always intense

In last year’s state semifinals, Gorham ended Scarborough’s title reign with a surprisingly quick three-set victory (29-31, 18-22, 22-25).

This fall, both teams are chasing Biddeford, the reigning champion, so far to no avail.

The Rams started with a 3-1 loss to the Tigers and after blanking Deering, lost in five-sets at home to Scarborough before rebounding with victories over four-time reigning Class B champion Yarmouth (3-1) and South Portland (3-0).

The Red Storm had no trouble in their first two matches, blanking host Cheverus and visiting Noble, then they outlasted host Gorham in five-sets. After beat visiting Thornton Academy (3-0), Scarborough suffered its first loss last Thursday at Biddeford, in three-games.


In the teams’ first meeting, Sept. 8 in Gorham, the Rams won the first two games, 25-20 and 25-23, but the Red Storm roared back, 25-19 and 25-14 before eking out a 17-15 victory in the decisive fifth set.

Tuesday, the teams went the distance again, with a different result.

Gorham shot to a 9-4 lead in the first set, as senior setter Sophia DiPhilippo established herself as a pinpoint passer, setting up seniors Amber Bretton and Summer Gammon for early kills. Back came Scarborough with a 10-2 run, highlighted by an ace from senior Olivia Smith and a kill from senior Julia Strouse, to lead, 14-11. Senior Rose Dittmer then helped the Red Storm put it away, first, making a great save on a ball that deflected off the ceiling to help Scarborough win a point, then serving up three straight aces to make it 22-17. The Rams crept back within two, 23-21, on a kill from Lewellen, but Strouse had a kill to set up set point and after Gorham stayed alive, a Moynihan kill ended it, 25-22.

Smith had seven assists and five service points in the first game, while Strouse added five kills and Moynihan had three. The Rams were led by 10 assists from DiPhilippo and six kills from Bretton.

Gorham then quickly seized control in the second set, scoring the first six points behind three aces from DiPhilippo, then stretched its advantage to 12-3 behind an ace from senior Lilian Andreasen and a kill from Bretton. Consecutive DiPhilippo aces gave the Rams a 20-12 lead. The Red Storm rallied and got within 21-19, forcing Gorham coach Emma Tirrell to call timeout. After the teams traded points, Gammon had successive kills, and after a Rams’ service fault, Scarborough faulted as well and Gorham had a 25-21 victory to even the match.

DiPhilippo had seven service points and six aces to lead the way. Scarborough was paced by six assists from Smith, three kills and a block from senior Alana Sawyer and five service points from senior Rayann Chamberlain.


The Red Storm would have their chances to take the pivotal third game, but it would be the Rams making the key plays late as neither team led by more than three points until the very end.

The set was tied at 1-1, 3-3, 5-5 and 6-6 before Gorham opened up a slight lead. The Rams were up, 19-16 before the next five points went to the home team, with Smith serving an ace, Moynihan producing a kill, then Sawyer pounding two more to make it 21-19. It didn’t last, however, as Gorham tied it, then went ahead for good on a Lewellen block. DiPhilippo added an ace, then Lewellen had another block before Scarborough hit the ball into the net to end it, 25-21.

DiPhilippo continued her solid play with seven service points and six assists. Smith was exceptional for the Red Storm with 10 assists, four kills and six service points, including three aces.

“Olivia has really stepped up,” Petherbridge said. “We made an adjustment tonight to have her set all the way around. She has great court awareness and puts the ball in places where our hitters can succeed. She does all that and she can still turn and swing at the ball. That’s pretty impressive.”

The Rams fervently hoped to close it out in game four and nearly did, but Scarborough rose off the deck when it mattered most.

Again Gorham started fast, going up, 8-2, on aces from Andreasen and Lewellen. The Red Storm then erupted on an 11-3 run, tying it on a Moynihan ace, then taking the lead on an ace from senior Samantha Cote before another Moynihan ace made it 13-11. The Rams came back to tie it at 13-13, 15-15 and 17-17 before an ace from Bretton and a Lewellen block produced a 20-17 advantage. Scarborough would fight back to tie it up at 22-22 on a Moynihan ace, then, after a service fault gave Gorham the lead, a Moynihan kill made it 23-23. Another service fault gave the Rams match point, but they couldn’t close it out, as after Gorham hit the ball into the net, Moynihan served up an ace, then a kill from junior Olivia Ingream gave the Red Storm a 26-24 victory, tying the match.


“The girls truly play until the ball hits the floor,” Petherbridge said. “We have a hungry group that got eliminated earlier than they wanted to last year and that lives in the backs of their minds when we get down.”

“Scarborough always keeps their heads up,” said Tirrell. “My girls looked tense and I looked at (the Red Storm) and they were laughing and joking. They do a really nice job keeping their spirit light. They can always put the ball away.”

Moynihan impressed in the fourth game, serving up four aces and producing five kills. Smith added 10 assists, which helped neutralize eight service points from Andreasen, six blocks and three kills from Lewellen and five kills from Bretton.

Scarborough appeared to have momentum heading into the winner-take-all, first-team-to-15-points fifth game, but this time, the Red Storm would fall just short.

Scarborough won the first point when Gorham couldn’t return the ball, but Lewellen countered with a kill. After the Red Storm went up, 2-1, senior Addison Canty tied it with a kill, then the Rams took a one-point lead. The game would be tied 3-3 and 5-5 before Strouse served up an ace, causing Tirrell to call timeout. It helped initially, as Bretton tied it with a kill, but a service fault, followed by a Moynihan ace, put Scarborough in front, 8-6.

And then, Gorham found another gear and closed on a 9-4 surge.


After a kill from Gammon, the Red Storm couldn’t return the ball and Bretton followed with a kill, followed by an ace to make it 10-8. A kill from Smith pulled Scarborough within one, but a service fault, followed by a Lewellen block, made it 12-9 and forced Petherbridge to call timeout. A kill from Sawyer kept hope alive, but the Red Storm lost a point on a fault and after pulling within 13-11 on a kill from Strouse, another fault set up match point. Again, Scarborough stayed alive when the Rams hit the ball into the net, but at 8:05 p.m., DiPhilippo set up Lewellen for a kill that ended the game, 15-12, and the match, 3-2.

“It was perfect,” said Lewellen. “I was so glad (Sophia) set it to me and I knew I was going to get a kill. We wanted this so badly after last time. We trusted each other.”

“I put the ball where I wanted,” said DiPhilippo. “I’m really grateful for all my hitters. I was proud of (Meryk). Last year gave us confidence we could win here. We just started to communicate and we just wanted it more.”

“I appreciate Scarborough for who they are,” Tirrell added. “They push us to be better every time we play. My girls tend to be hard on themselves, so I told them to keep their heads up and focus on mechanics. I told them to have faith in each other and work hard and know it’s not a timed sport, it’s point-by-point. That first (time we played) was a coin flip and this was a coin flip too, but it worked out in our favor.”

DiPhilippo stuffed the stat sheet with 32 assists (including six in the final game) and 16 service points (including six aces).

“Our depth is big and our setter can put the ball in different places,” Tirrell said. “I told (Sophia) that whoever is hot to set them and we did a nice job moving the ball around.”


Bretton had 18 kills, Lewellen 13 kills and 12 blocks, Gammon had eight kills. Andreasen 13 service points and junior Natalie Smith finished with nine service points.

The Red Storm were paced by Smith (37 assists), Moynihan (17 kills and six aces), Strouse (11 kills) and Sawyer (eight kills).

“I think we just made a couple costly miscues at times we couldn’t afford them,” Petherbridge lamented.

Another measuring stick

Gorham returns to action Thursday at home versus Marshwood, then gets a second shot at Biddeford a week from Thursday on the road.

“This gives us confidence for the rest of the season,” DiPhilippo said. “We just need to want it and have good team chemistry.”


“This is big for Heal Points and confidence,” said Tirrell. “This proved it’s the evenly matched season we thought it was. There are a lot of things we can still do better. We just can’t let the ball hit the ground.”

Scarborough visits Sanford Thursday, then plays host to a top Class B team, Cape Elizabeth, Tuesday of next week. The Red Storm also see Biddeford once more, Oct. 5, at home.

“We have some things to fix and we’ll make those adjustments,” said Petherbridge. “I think we just need to continue our never-quit mentality. These matches are fun and I think we’ll have more of them.”

Indeed, there’s a very good chance that Gorham and Scarborough aren’t done with each other.

“They got the better of us this time, but we’d love to see them again,” said Petherbridge.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

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