BIDDEFORD — After the marathon 2-hour, 10-minute volleyball match, Scarborough and Biddeford were exhausted, but the Red Storm were relieved they emerged the winner.

By scoring the final two points in front of a packed and boisterous crowd in Biddeford High’s gym, Scarborough brought the back-and-forth Class A semifinal to an end, taking the fifth and deciding set 17-15 to earn a spot in the Class A state championship.

The No. 3 Red Storm (13-3) will face No. 1 Gorham (14-2) at 8 p.m. Friday at the University of Southern Maine. No. 2 Biddeford, the defending state champs, end the season 13-3. Scarborough and Gorham split a pair of matches in the regular season, each winning in five sets.

Biddeford took the first set 25-23 before the Red Storm took the next two, 25-22 and 26-24. The Tigers forced the fifth set with a 25-18 win in the fourth, the only set decided by more than three points. Scarborough led the fifth set 14-9, but couldn’t put the Tigers away. Biddeford tied it 14-14, then again at 15-15, before Scarborough scored two quick points. The match ended when a Biddeford return sailed wide and out of bounds.

“We expected it to be a game. We had split with them in the regular season. Every match had been close,” Scarborough Coach Nicole Petherbridge said. “This tight, it was more than we bargained for. More than anyone bargained for. They’re an awesome team and I’d expect nothing less from them.”

Biddeford Coach Ruth Shaw echoed Petherbridge’s sentiments.


“It was amazing, wasn’t it? I think both teams deserved it. It was just a matter of the last two points, really,” Shaw said. “(Scarborough) are unbelievable hitters. I told my team, it’s a game of mistakes. It just so happened, we had the last mistake. I’m very proud of them.”

As the Tigers fought back in that deciding set, Scarborough players reminded each other to focus on the fundamentals.

“Pass and hit. You’ve got to play volleyball, you know? We always say, just go back to basics. So that’s what we did,” senior Olivia Smith said.

While both teams enjoyed runs of success throughout the match; neither overwhelmed the other at any time. Scarborough led the first set 12-7 before Biddeford fought back to win it.

“Even in that first set, we went up big and they came charging back. In the timeout (between games), I told them we can’t expect to win a state semifinal by 10 points. That’s just the caliber of teams we have. We had to maintain our composure long enough to hold them off,” Petherbridge said.

Scarborough and Biddeford split a pair of matches in the regular season, and Petherbridge thought his team did a good job sticking to the game plan Wednesday afternoon. Serve tough, and put up big blocks.

“It gave their hitters something to think about and earned us some points. I think we capitalized on our serves, minimizing our errors, and keep attacking the ball into their court and making them work for their points,” Petherbridge said.

After the match, Shaw announced her retirement from coaching. Since starting the Biddeford volleyball program in 1999, Shaw coached the Tigers for 20 seasons, over multiple stints.

“I told them, the reason I came back to coach after winning states last year was because this group of girls are the sweetest girls you could ever ask for,” Shaw said. “So coachable, and I didn’t want to leave them with somebody else. I wanted to finish it with them … I told them, you did what I asked you to do. You didn’t leave this court saying shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

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