YARMOUTH—For much of the 2023 season, Yarmouth’s volleyball team has found the going tougher than usual, but the rest of Class B better take notice.

Because the Clippers are rounding into championship form.

Yarmouth, the four-time reigning title winners, hosted perennial Class A powerhouse Scarborough Tuesday night and made a powerful statement.

The Clippers came right out and won the first set, 25-21, but after dropping the second by the same score, were on the brink of digging a big hole when the Red Storm held a 24-20 advantage in game number three.

But Yarmouth, in perhaps a season-turning stand, rallied for six straight points to steal the set, then put the match away with a 25-14 victory in the fourth game to prevail, 3-1.

The Clippers won their third match in a row, improved to 5-3 and in the process, dropped Scarborough to 7-3.


“That was definitely very exciting,” said Yarmouth’s first-year coach Erin Quirk. “It’s a big win for us. I just told them to play our game and not think about who’s on the other side of the net. We just took it one point at a time. This is really good for our confidence.”

Coming to life

Yarmouth has won the past four Class B championships and after last season, longtime coach Jim Senecal stepped down. This season, the Clippers find themselves battling the likes of Greely and York yet again, while Falmouth and Washington Academy are new to Class B, making for a deep class.

Yarmouth started with a 3-0 home win over Gardiner, then lost in four-sets at Biddeford (the reigning Class A champion) and at home to Gorham. After rallying to edge visiting Cape Elizabeth in a 3-2 thriller, the Clippers lost in straight-sets to visiting Washington Academy before righting the ship with 3-0 wins at Greely and York.

Scarborough, meanwhile, blanked host Cheverus and visiting Noble, then outlasted host Gorham in five-sets. After beat visiting Thornton Academy (3-0), the Red Storm were beating in straight-sets at Biddeford, then fell at home to Gorham, 3-2. Scarborough rebounded with wins over host Sanford (3-0), visiting Cape Elizabeth (3-1) and host Marshwood (3-0).

Last year, the Red Storm came to Yarmouth and prevailed in four games, snapping the Clippers’ 38-match win streak.


Tuesday, Yarmouth played its best match of the season and turned the tables.

Scarborough senior Julia Strouse serves the ball early in Tuesday’s match at Yarmouth. The Clippers prevailed, 3-1. Hoffer photos.

The Clippers came out hot in the first game, taking an 8-4 lead and never looking back. Yarmouth made it 12-7 before a service fault, followed by an ace from Scarborough senior Olivia Smith and another point cut the lead to two. The Clippers then erupted for seven straight points, highlighted by an ace from senior Annie Vinnakota. a block from junior Lillian Burrows and a kill from sophomore Ella Cameron. The Red Storm fought back within 21-16 on an ace from senior Julia Strouse, then made it 23-20 after an ace from senior Rose Dittmer, but Scarborough hit the ball out, then after Yarmouth did the same, the Red Storm hit the ball into the net to give the Clippers a 25-21 victory.

“I think getting that first game was really a positive step,” said Clippers junior Drea Rideout. “It set the mindset for the whole match.”

Vinnakota had six service points to spark the win.

Scarborough would bounce back in the second set, but not before Yarmouth started fast again.

The Clippers shot to a 5-2 lead behind an ace from Vinnakota, a kill from Burrows and a kill from sophomore Grace Keaney, but the Red Storm rallied to go on top, 10-9. After a service fault tied it, Vinnakota had an ace, then Cameron produced three straight kills for a 14-10 advantage. Scarborough awakened and went on an 8-1 run, as Strouse had two kills and junior Natalie Moynihan produced three of her own. Yarmouth tied it at 19-19 on a Keaney kill, but the Clippers then hit the ball into the net, Red Storm senior Samantha Cote followed with a block and Moynihan served up three straight aces to put Scarborough on the brink. After a fault and a block from Burrows gave Yarmouth hope, a kill from Smith extinguished it and gave the Red Storm a 25-21 decision, tying the match.


In the second game, Moynihan had four kills and three aces, senior Alana Sawyer served up seven points and Smith had four assists, negating five service points from Vinnakota.

Scarborough then appeared on the brink of taking the pivotal third set, but instead, the Clippers roared back to seize control of the match.

The Red Storm won the first four points, as Smith served up two aces and Sawyer and Strouse each had a kill. Yarmouth came back to tie it 5-5, on a block from Keaney, but a kill from Strouse helped Scarborough go up, 10-6. Again, the Clippers answered, rattling off seven straight points, highlighted by four aces from Rideout and two kills from Vinnakota. Yarmouth went up by as many as four, 15-11, but couldn’t hold the lead, as eight of the next 10 points went to the visitors, who led, 19-17. The Clippers scored the next two points to draw even, but when Strouse served up an ace, the Red Storm’s lead was 24-20 and they were just a single point from closing out the set.

It never happened.

First, Keaney kept hope alive with a kill. Rideout then stepped to the service line and after Scarborough hit the ball out, Rideout served up an ace, then another to tie it, then another to stunningly put Yarmouth on the brink of victory.

Red Storm coach Nicole Petherbridge called timeout, but it didn’t help, as Rideout served the ball over again, Scarborough returned it, then junior Laila Brewer set the ball for a Vinnakota kill which produced a 26-24 victory.


“I just really wanted to get the ball over the net,” Rideout said. “That’s the only thing I was thinking, to make my serve.”

“I think that definitely deflated us a little bit,” Petherbridge lamented. “We have to get to a place where we’re not afraid to win and put the ball down hard in a close match. That differentiates a good team and a great team and it’s something we’ll work on.”

In the third game, Rideout had seven aces, while Keaney finished with four blocks and two kills and Vinnakota added three kills. Strouse’s four kills went for naught for the Red Storm.

Yarmouth then never trailed in the fourth set, as it put Scarborough away.

A kill from Vinnakota on the first point set the tone and after the Red Storm drew even on a Strouse kill, a Keaney kill gave the Clippers the lead for good. An ace from junior Alyssa Rousseau and a pair from Cameron opened up a 9-4 advantage. Scarborough crept back to 10-7, but Yarmouth refused to buckle and gradually extended the lead. A 16-11 advantage became 22-12, as Keaney had a couple kills, then Vinnakota added a pair before Cameron served up an ace, forcing Petherbridge to again call timeout.

It helped for the moment, as Cote had a kill and Moynihan served up an ace, but on the ensuing point, an apparent ace from Moynihan was instead called barely out and after the Red Storm hit the ball out to set up match point, Rideout served one final time and it produced an ace for a 25-14 set victory and a 3-1 match triumph.


Yarmouth celebrates after defeating Scarborough, 3-1.

“I think our attitude and energy was a huge part of it,” Rideout said. “We kept it all together. I think we’ve recently really connected as a team. We’ve gotten really close and we’re working hard together and it’s paying off.”

“With our tough schedule this year, it’s been a challenge to stay confident,” said Quirk. “We didn’t know if we could win this, so it’s big. It’s tough to play really good teams from Class A, but the girls have done a great job trying to re-set. This was huge for us, coming out strong right from the get-go.”

Rideout had 15 service points, including eight aces.

Vinnakota added a dozen service points and eight kills, while Keaney had 10 kills and six blocks and Cameron finished with seven service points and six kills. Brewer had with 11 assists, while junior Norah Lushman added eight.

Scarborough was paced by Moynihan’s nine kills and six service points, Sawyer’s 11 service points and six kills, Strouse’s nine kills and six service points and Smith’s 15 assists and six service points.

“(Yarmouth) came out hot and we battled for awhile, then we ran out of steam a little bit,” said Petherbridge. “I think they came out and played well. As much as we made mistakes, they challenged us from the first point. I have to hand it to Yarmouth. We’re infamous for turning it on, but we couldn’t turn it on today.”


Playoff jockeying

Scarborough’s next match is a doozy, at home versus Biddeford Thursday. After playing at South Portland, the Red Storm welcome York, then close at home versus Falmouth.

“The girls know we play Biddeford next and we’ll need to rebound,” said Petherbridge. “We have to just play our game. It’s easy to get frazzled against great competition. We just need to stick to our game plan and execute. We know Biddeford will come out guns blazing and we’re hoping to do the same.”

Yarmouth looks to keep the good times rolling Saturday when it hosts York. The Clippers then go to Gray-New Gloucester, welcome Wells, visit Mt. Desert Island and Ellsworth and close at Cape Elizabeth.

“I think we just need to keep the same energy and attitude we had in this game,” said Rideout. “We have to stay humble because this win doesn’t mean everything. We still have to push through.”

“We’re on to the next one,” Quirk said. “We have York and that’s going to be big for us. I really like this group. I’m really proud of the girls and what they’ve done this year.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

Comments are not available on this story.