CUMBERLAND—Greely’s volleyball team is back where it belongs.

A place it hasn’t been since 2017.

In the state semifinals.

Saturday afternoon, the fourth-ranked Rangers hosted No. 5 Kennebunk in a Class B state quarterfinal and when the points had to be won, rose to the occasion.

Greely started slowly in the first set, but settled in and thanks to an ace from senior Alyssa Hilbers, eked out a 25-23 victory.

The Rams led most of the way in the second game as they hoped to draw even, but the Rangers closed on a 9-3 surge and when senior Ella Leding’s kill produced a 25-23 victory, Greely had a 2-0 advantage in the match.


Instead of allowing Kennebunk to make things interesting in the third game, the Rangers won the first seven points and never looked back and rolled to a 25-15 victory to prevail, 3-0.

Senior Molly Mulligan led the way with 10 kills as Greely improved to 12-4, ended Kennebunk’s season at 12-4 and set up a date at top-ranked Washington Academy (15-0) Wednesday at a time to be announced with a trip to the state match hanging in the balance.

“It feels amazing,” said Rangers coach Autumn Vargo. “I set a goal at the beginning of the season for us to get to the semis. I wanted it so badly for the girls and they did it.”

First time in awhile

Greely is the state’s most accomplished volleyball program, while Kennebunk has recently come on strong.

This fall, the Rangers started 4-1 and after losing consecutive matches, rattled off five straight victories before finishing with their best record since 2016, the year of their last championship. Greely then eliminated No. 13 Mt. Desert Island, 3-1, in Thursday’s preliminary round match.


The Rams, meanwhile, started with three straight victories and after a loss to Falmouth, won seven straight before cooling off down the stretch. Thursday, Kennebunk defeated Westbrook, 3-0, in the state preliminary round.

Greely and Kennebunk did not play this year and had no playoff history.

Saturday, it was clear from the onset that the teams were pretty even, but the Rangers would come up huge when it mattered most to advance.

Greely senior Molly Mulligan soars into her serve early in the Rangers’ three-set win over Kennebunk Saturday. Hoffer photos.

The Rams shot to a quick 4-0 lead, as sophomore Charlotte MacDonald served an ace and senior Danielle Hersom delivered a kill, then Kennebunk made it 8-3 on a kill from junior Mikayla Kimball, but Greely responded behind kills from Mulligan, junior Magdalena Wilder and senior Gracelyn Pearce and a block from sophomore Maddie Croteau before Mulligan’s ace tied the score, 10-10.

Mulligan served up two more points, including another ace, to give the Rangers their first lead, but Kennebunk drew even at 14-14 and 15-15. Two aces from freshman Annabelle Talley made it 19-16 and after the Rams won the next two points, Wilder’s ace put Greely up, 22-18. Kennebunk didn’t go quietly, however, as a kill from Hersom tied the score, 23-23, but the Rams followed with their seventh errant serve of the set before an ace from Hilbers ended the first set, 25-23, in the Rangers’ favor.

“We just come out and show that we’re a good team,” said Mulligan, who had four service points in the game. “Winning that first set meant a lot. That got us excited.”


“That was huge,’ Vargo said. “Our first sets are always wishy-washy, but we kept moving forward. The girls are mentally tough. They play hard and with determination. We needed to come out strong. By doing that, it gave us extra momentum.”

Greely senior Addison Hilbers sets the ball for a teammate.

The second game saw Kennebunk again start fast, going up, 3-0, but the next five points went to the hosts, highlighted by two Mulligan kills and an ace from Talley. Mulligan then had successive kills for an 8-4 advantage, but the Rams crept back and drew even at 11-11, before going ahead on a kill from junior Kelsey Ewing. After Greely tied it again, the Rangers had a service fault, then junior Talia Kellum had an ace and Hersom followed with a kill before Kennebunk won another point to make it 16-12. Vargo called timeout and the Rangers tried to rally, but after pulling within two on a kill from Wilder after a long rally, the Rams made it 20-16.

But Greely saved its best for last, getting a pair of kills from Mulligan to spark a comeback. A kill from Ewing made it 21-19 Kennebunk, but after a service fault, the Rams hit the ball off the ceiling and couldn’t get it over, then they hit it out to put the Rangers ahead. A kill from junior Dominique Owen brought Kennebunk even, then Greely hit the ball out to put the Rams two points away from evening the match, but after a kill from Talley, Leding had a pivotal block that led to a point and on match point, Leding’s kill gave the Rangers a 25-23 victory and a two-set advantage.

Mulligan had six kills in the game, while Leding added three blocks and two kills, which counteracted MacDonald’s six assists.

“We just played like it was 0-0, like it was a fresh start,” Mulligan said, of the final points of the second set.

Greely wasn’t about to give Kennebunk life when the third and final game began, as Addison Hilbers excelled at the service stripe and Talley delivered a kill to make it 7-0 in the blink of an eye. After the Rams got two points back, Talley had successive aces for a 10-2 lead. The Rangers took a 13-4 advantage before Kennebunk rattled off four straight points, including two aces from senior Jaime Harrington, but a Mulligan kill stemmed the rally. A kill from Croteau and an ace from Alyssa Hilbers then stretched the lead to 20-10. After the Rams got a point on a service fault, Greely won the next point, Kennebunk failed to return the ball, Alyssa Hilbers served up an ace, then did it again to put the Rangers one point from advancing.


The Rams refused to buckle, however, as after winning the next point, sophomore Quinn Wherley served up three successive aces, but her next attempt hit the net and Greely had a 25-15 victory and clinched the match, 3-0.

Greely celebrates its victory.

“I’m super-excited,” Mulligan said. “We’ve worked really hard for this. It was big to get that big lead in the third set. We felt like we could bring it home and we just went from there. I was so excited on that last point.”

“It feels amazing,” said Vargo. “It’s great we could win in three sets.”

Mulligan set the tone with 10 kills. She also had seven service points, including two aces.

“I just believe in myself,” said Mulligan. “I know mistakes will happen, but I keep trying and I know I’ll get there.”

“Molly came out so strong out of the gate,” Vargo said. “She was determined not to let her senior year end tonight.”


Addison Hilbers had nine assists and eight service points, Talley added seven aces and Alyssa Hilbers had seven service points.

Kennebunk was led by MacDonald, who had eight assists and eight service points. Harrington finished with nine service points and three kills, Kellum had five service points, Hersom added four service points and three kills and Wherley served up five aces.

Road trip

Greely did not play Washington Academy this season and the teams have never met in the postseason.

The Rangers will be the underdog and face a lengthy bus ride to and from East Machias, but they’ll willingly make the trip, believing they’ll return with a trip to the state final secured.

“We just have to keep working together and playing a team game,” said Mulligan. “I think we can do it.”

“We just have to keep the momentum and the mental toughness,” Vargo said. “We have to persevere on every point and dig in. I’m so excited.”

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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