CAPE ELIZABETH—This time, there was no dramatic comeback.

And as a result, Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team’s season has come to an end.

Thursday evening at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, the eighth-ranked Capers hosted No. 9 York in a Class B state preliminary round playoff match that saw the Wildcats grab control early and never look back.

The Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to pull away in the first set, en route to a 25-10 victory.

York then scored the first eight points of the second game and went on to a 25-16 win.

Cape Elizabeth, which just two weeks ago fell behind the Wildcats, 2-0, then rallied to win the match, hoped to dig into the same bag of tricks, taking an early 9-2 lead in the third set, but York didn’t buckle and with the game on the line, made the pivotal plays and went to prevail, 25-21, to win the match, 3-0.


The Wildcats improved to 8-7, ended Cape Elizabeth’s season at 8-7 and advanced to take on top-ranked Washington Academy (14-0) in the Class B state quarterfinals Saturday in East Machias.

“We weren’t going to let (a lead slip away) happen again,” said York coach Suzanne Bradley. “We were really focused. I have to say it was all the girls. They came together as a unit. It obviously worked tonight. It was awesome.”

“We know the better team won tonight,” said longtime Capers coach Sarah Boeckel. “York came in mentally and physically ready and we didn’t recover.”

End of the road

Cape Elizabeth started fast this season, winning its first three matches, then the Capers won the first two sets at Yarmouth before losing the next three. After dropping two more matches, Cape Elizabeth won a pair, lost one, won three in a row, then closed with losses to Messalonskee and Yarmouth to wind up eighth.

York also started 3-0, then lost seven of nine matches before closing with consecutive victories.


“I don’t think our record shows how good this team is,” Bradley said. “We had a really tough schedule which we wanted to prepare us for playoffs.”

The Capers and Wildcats split their two regular season encounters, with York winning at home in straight sets before Cape Elizabeth rallied for the aforementioned dramatic five-game victory.

The Capers won the lone prior playoff match, 3-0, in the 2018 Class B state semifinals.

Thursday, the Wildcats started strong and simply wouldn’t be denied.

An ace from junior captain Amala Rumma opened the match and got the partisan crowd fired up and Cape Elizabeth won the next point as well, but York took the next five, as junior Brooke Roe served a couple aces and sophomore Bella Parrotta had a kill, to set the tone. The Capers hung close and cut a 10-5 deficit to just two points on an ace from sophomore captain Ava Daviault, but after a Cape Elizabeth service fault, sophomore Maya Babcock stepped to the line for the Wildcats and served up nine straight points, including four aces, even one which momentarily hung on the top of the net before dropping in. A kill by Roe, an ace from senior captain Nora Dowling, then a Roe ace, which again hit the top of the net, then dropped in, closed out the 25-10 first set victory.

“An early lead was really important because it got our confidence up,” Dowling said.


“That early lead was great because it’s easier to play when you’re ahead,” said Bradley. “You can play a little bit more relaxed and shake off mistakes.”

If York’s first set performance wasn’t impressive enough, it came out on fire in the second game, scoring the first eight points. Dowling served up three aces, while senior McKayla Kortes had a pair of kills and a block. The Capers scored the next five points, punctuated by a kill from sophomore Bella Guerin-Brown, but that’s as close as they would get. Two kills from Kortes and an ace from Roe got the five points right back and made it 13-5. Cape Elizabeth drew back within 17-12 on a kill from junior Elsie Maxwell, a block from junior Ella Butterfield and an ace from Daviault, but a service fault, followed by successive Babcock aces turned the tide. The Capers cut the deficit to 20-15 on a kill from Guerin-Brown, but Dowling countered with a pair of kills and served up an ace, then, after a service fault, kills from Kortes and sophomore Jillian Holland closed it out, 25-16.

Players and coaches from both teams were well aware that York was up two sets and what had happened in the teams’ last matchup, but the Wildcats authored a different ending this time around.

But not without a fight.

A kill from Guerin-Brown and two from Daviault helped Cape Elizabeth go up, 9-2, early, but York quickly responded, as Holland had a kill and a block, junior Hannah Cleary added a kill, Parrotta served up an ace, then Holland delivered consecutive aces to tie it, 10-10. The Capers took their last lead, 12-11, but a kill from Dowling kill put York on top. The Wildcats went up, 17-13, but Cape Elizabeth made one final run and drew even at 19-19 before Bradley called timeout.

It worked, as a block from Cleary put York in front for good, Dowling dove and returned the ball just inside the line, then the Capers hit the ball into the net to make it 22-19. Boeckel called timeout to try and stem the tide, but a kill from Roe pushed the lead to four. Cape Elizabeth got within 23-21 on a block from Butterfield, but Roe produced a kill, then on match point, the Capers couldn’t return the ball and the Wildcats had a 25-21 victory to advance.


“We had a team meeting after last time and we talked about what we needed to work on and that really helped,” Dowling said. “We came here tonight and we knew we needed to win. Last time, we let them get the last three (sets), so we weren’t going to let it happen again.”

“I have to give it to Cape,” Bradley said. “They battled back in the third set. They have a young team like we do. We expect many Cape-York battles in the years to come.”

Dowling had seven assists and 16 service points, among them seven aces, including several where she took a little bit off and the Capers couldn’t react in time.

“I saw that they couldn’t get the short balls, so I figured I might as well keep serving them,” Dowling said.

“She worked us and we didn’t make adjustments,” Boeckel said.

Babcock had 12 service points, including six assists, while Roe added nine service points, including four aces, and also had five kills. Parrotta had seven assists and four service points, Kortes finished with seven kills and three blocks and Holland had seven service points and four kills.


York didn’t face Washington Academy during the regular season, but did beat the Raiders to win a preseason tournament in Falmouth, so the Wildcats believe they have a chance to spring an upset Saturday.

“We just need the same attitude as we had today,” said Dowling. “We beat them before, so we know we can do it. They’re a very strong team offensively and defensively, but this gives us confidence.”

“We’ll be ready,” Bradley said. “Now we have a long bus ride and we have nothing to lose and want to make it worth our while. I hope we can go surprise Washington Academy.”

They’ll be back

Cape Elizabeth was paced by Rumma, who had seven assists and two kills, and sophomore Camryn Wandell, who had seven service points. Daviault added five service points and three kills, Maxwell had four service points and Guerin-Brown contributed four kills.

“The way we played in the last game is how we should been playing the whole match,” Boeckel said. “Giving up runs early in games has been a problem all year. York wasn’t going to let us dig out of a hole today. We’re very evenly matched. I didn’t think it would be easy, but I didn’t think we’d go down in three. We fought, but we just made too many mistakes.”

The Capers return the core of this year’s squad, which will be right back in the hunt.

“I’ve got pretty much everybody coming back and we have to remember this so we come into next season hungrier,” Boeckel said. “It’s a young team. I’m psyched they’re all coming back. We’ll come back strong.”

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

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