AUGUSTA — How relaxed was the Yarmouth High volleyball team Tuesday night during the Class B state championship match against Washington Academy? Well, during a timeout late in the fourth and deciding set, “Cotton-Eyed Joe” came on in the Cony High gymnasium, and many of the Clippers started dancing as they listened to Coach Erin Quirk.

“It’s the best way to approach this game. It’s such a game of momentum,” Yarmouth senior Annie Vinnakota said. “It’s important to keep your energy high. Even if you’re not winning, make it look like you’re winning.”

The Clippers were winning, and soon after that impromptu dance party, sealed their fifth straight Class B state title with a 3-1 win.

“What I noticed is we all locked in. Even though it may not have been our most energetic game, we really wanted this. Keeping up our title is a really big deal for us. We don’t take it lightly,” Yarmouth junior Nora Lushman said.

The Clippers (14-3) took a tight first set, 31-29. Washington Academy evened the match with a 25-21 win in set two, before Yarmouth took set three 26-24 and set four 25-19 to win the title. Playing its first season in Class B after winning the last two Class C state titles and three of the last four, Washington Academy ended the season at 16-1 despite starting with just three players with varsity experience. Entering the state final, the Raiders had lost just one set all season.

“We were looking for a change. We’ve had great experiences with Class C. There’s good talent in Class C. We thought we’d like the additional challenge of playing up in Class B and playing some of these bigger schools in the southern part of the state. We’ve certainly enjoyed our experience,” Raiders Coach Corey Schwinn said.


These teams met in the regular season, with the Raiders taking a 3-0 win. That tough match, combined with games against strong Class A programs like Gorham and Biddeford, tested the Clippers so that they were ready for strong competition in the playoffs.

“I’m glad that we got tested, and we got through it, because it set us up for today,” Vinnakota said.

The pivotal moment of the match came in the third set. The Raiders had just taken the second to even the game and roared to a 13-4 lead in the third. The Clippers found a groove, winning 10 consecutive points to take a 14-13 lead and completely reverse momentum.

“The key to that was taking it point by point. I think it was Alyssa (Rousseau) serving, and props to her for keeping it in and keeping it aggressive,” Quirk said.

Both Vinnakota and Lushman felt maintaining high energy against a strong opponent was the key. That began with close wins over Falmouth and Messalonskee in earlier rounds of the playoffs, Vinnakota said.

“We came into it with a really focused and positive attitude. We were getting excited, but we were keeping it reined in enough to make smart plays,” Vinnakota said.

Schwinn said Yarmouth’s ability to cover the entire court and stay in system was the difference.

“We knew it was going to be a good battle. We were good with however it turned out, as long as we played well. Both sides played well,” Schwinn said.

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