WATERBORO—The Scots opened their season with a straight-sets win over hosts Massabesic on Tuesday night, Sept 6. Sets one and two went Bonny Eagle’s way quite handily, while the Mustangs showed more mettle in set three.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect (from Massabesic),” said Scots head coach Kelley Champagne. “We played them last year, but I knew some of them had graduated out. I hadn’t seen them at all in preseason or anything, so I had no idea, until we showed up here today, what we were going to see.”
“(Massabesic’s) actually stronger than they’ve been in the past,” Champagne said. “Definitely scrappy. We could never think that a ball was down; it was always, kind of, staying in the air. They have three people over there that, I would say, play with the best intensity – and that’s all it takes sometimes, in volleyball: to play with a little bit more intensity than your opponent.”
Bonny Eagle rolled to a 25-11 victory in the first set, and continued to dominate in the second set, grabbing the first point on a beautiful Morgan Drinkwater block, then barreling to 6-3, 13-6, 18-7, and 25-8. Senior Whitney Regan capped the push with an ace.
“That’s our starting rotation,” Champagne said of the girls she’d deployed for the majority of the first two sets. “Our old reliables, our more seasoned players, understanding the game and not panicking – Jenna Litif, Whitney Regan, Mia Ferrante; those are my three starting seniors.”
At the start of the third set, Champagne opted to give her veterans a little rest, and subbed in some greener players. Those girls performed admirably, though the Mustangs also seemed to refocus in that time, and managed to keep pace with the Scots all the way through, even seizing a narrow lead for a stretch.
Bonny Eagle inched ahead early, 10-7, but Massabesic battled back to 10-10, then stepped out front 11-10, 13-11, and 15-12. The Mustangs led by as much as four, at 17-13, and held the edge as late in the set as 22-21, but they couldn’t – especially once Champagne’s starters checked back in – ultimately pull off a win to stay alive. From 24-24, Bonny Eagle tallied two straight points to take the night.
“They went back in at the end,” Champagne said of her elder stateswomen. “They weren’t in at the front. But our subs held their own and did great; and some subs who would normally be back row got the opportunity to play front row, and I saw some great things. They all got to serve – not everyone’s normally a server in a varsity match.”
“Sarah Shackley came in, and Aja Austin, both come in as great servers,” Champagne said, asked to applaud her subs by name. “And then, Cait Demers came in, and she was able to hold her position, play a bit outside – which isn’t, sometimes, her normal (spot); I even made her go over to the right-hand side and be a setter. She understands the game enough to be able to slide right into those positions, which his great. From a coaching perspective, it’s delightful, because I moved people all around today. It was nice to do.”
“I hope so,” Champagne said, asked if she already had the sense – since Bonny Eagle’s volleyball program is barely more than three years old – that this fall the Scots would take another huge stride forward. In their first few seasons, after all, the program progressed rapidly, finishing at 10-4 in the 2016 regular season, good enough for the tournament three-seed.
“I’m a ‘never predict where you’re going to be,’” Champagne said. “But if we play our game the way we know how, then we should be a step further than we were last year, absolutely. We can defeat ourselves, just like any team can.”
Bonny Eagle begins their autumn at 1-0. The Scots travel to Scarborough (0-1) on Thursday the 7th.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Aja Austin unwinds into a serve for Bonny Eagle.
Whitney Regan gets beneath an incoming ball.
Makala Greene works the net for Bonny Eagle at Massabesic on Tuesday night.
Sarah Shackley sets up a ball.
Veteran Scots Jenna Litif (1) and Mia Ferrante (21) home in on a ball together.
Morgan Drinkwater battles at the net for Bonny Eagle.