ELLSWORTH – For the past four years, the six seniors on the Greely High School volleyball team have only known winning, so the outcome of Saturday’s state championship game didn’t exactly surprise the girls.
The Rangers from Cumberland Center maintained their stronghold on the sport by defeating Mount Desert Island 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-16) at Ellsworth High School.
It was the fourth consecutive state volleyball championship for Greely and the third year in a row the Rangers (14-0) have beaten MDI (13-2) for the crown.
“I think it’s more sweet than either of the last few years,” senior setter Tessa Churchill said. “The is a great way to end our career here.”
Behind solid fundamental defense and a relentless offensive attack, Greely took command of the match with a 14-3 run in the first game and didn’t look back.
“We hung in there and we had some brief moments where we challenged them, but they just have a ton of experience,” Trojans coach Todd Brophy said.
Molly Northway led the Rangers with 10 kills. Allison Scott, Amanda Kittridge, and Lauren Kinney each chipped in with six.
Kinney led the defense with 10 digs and also had 12 service winners to lead her team.
Northway, another of Greely’s seniors, said one of the reasons her team is so strong is balance. The opposition has to worry about more than just one weapon.
“We’re much more of an even team than in years past,” Northway said. “Everyone has a specialty, so we all end up contributing.”
In a match that produced little drama, the Rangers also did a masterful job of keeping momentum on their side. Anytime the Trojans won a long rally and tried to grab momentum back, the Rangers quickly got a side out.
Churchill, the team’s catalyst at the setting position, said it wasn’t hard to maintain intensity.
“We’re all about picking each other up,” she said. “So, whenever we’re in a huddle, it’s always positive.”
One of the bright spots for MDI was its blocking game, led by Mariah Grover, who at 6-foot-2 was the tallest player on the court Saturday.
“We knew they were a really good team, we were just happy to be back [in the state championship],” said Grover, who led the Trojans with seven kills and five blocks. “We wanted to take away their hitting game and I think we did a little, but they were too strong.”
Greely coach Kelvin Hasch called a couple of timeouts at certain points during the match to remind his players not to change their game plan.
“I had to keep telling them to hit the ball,” Hasch said. “I don’t mind if they hit it and get blocked, but I don’t want them to lay off.”
The Rangers lose six seniors but the Trojans only lose three and return several key players, including Grover.
Greely and MDI also have two of the top feeder programs for volleyball in the state, so it’s likely the teams might meet again next year.