Mount Desert Island’s Alexis Clarito serves the ball during the fifth and final set of a high school volleyball match against Calais on Sept. 1 in Bar Harbor. MDI held off a Calais rally to win the match. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Trojans crush season opener



BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School volleyball team netted their first win in a hard-fought 3-2 match against Calais at home Sept. 1. MDI held off a fierce Calais rally to record a 25-13, 29-27, 22-25, 18-25, 15-13 win.

It was the first match for the Trojans’ new coach, Richard Grant, and it wasn’t easy. But when he needed it most, his team stepped up to the task.

One point from victory in the back-and-forth tiebreaker match, he was desperate for his team to put the contest to rest.

“This is it!” Grant shouted to his team from the sidelines. “Let’s finish it!”

Nearly a minute passed, but MDI delivered. After catching Calais out of position on what seemed to be an endless volley, the Trojans’ Julia Watras spiked the ball to open space on the Blue Devils’ side of the court.

The crowd in the gym went into a frenzy, and Grant pumped his right fist into the air in celebration. It was harder than it could’ve been, to be sure, but the Trojans were going to take this win and run with it.

“That made me sweat there for a bit,” Grant said. “We nearly let it get away, but the girls showed too much heart and effort to lose this one.”

Calais earned the opening two points in the first set, but MDI scored the next seven before Calais came back to pull the score to 15-13. After the Trojans won the next point, Mackenzie Hanna served the remaining nine to seal the game.

Calais took control of the second set early, earning 14 points to MDI’s seven, before Hanna led another run that put MDI (1-0) ahead 16-14. Both teams exchanged the lead several times from there and even went past the 25-point mark before Alexis Clarito served the final two points to give the Trojans a 29-27 win.

Calais (0-1) narrowly won a hard-fought third set and carried the momentum into the fourth. The two teams split the first 24 points, but the Blue Devils took control and scored 12 of the next 14 before holding off another MDI rally to tie the match at two games apiece.

“I think we got ahead of ourselves after we won the first two sets,” Grant said. “Calais picked up the energy, and that turned things around for a while.”

MDI took the first three points of the fifth game before Calais saved the fourth serve in the corner and turned it into a point of its own. The play stopped the Trojans’ newfound momentum, and the Blue Devils scored the next five points to take the lead with six points to the Trojans’ three.

MDI put together one last rally to take the final set to 14-13. From there, a grueling fight for the final point ended with the kill from Watras — but not before Calais made two key defensive stops that Grant and everyone else in green and white couldn’t believe.

“There were a bunch of times when they got digs up in really hard spots, and it just made you sit back and say, ‘Whoa,’” Grant said. “They covered well and made it tough on us, and we had to come together as a team to hold them off.”

Hanna led the Trojans with 11 aces and 18 assists. Sara Todd led the team in digs with 19, and Watras added seven kills and six aces.

“We definitely need to work on serving harder and get our defense going some more,” Grant said. “We would have a bit of a run going, and then there would be a serve or a miss that would let them back in it.”

MDI also faced Brewer in an exhibition game Wednesday and will head to Cumberland County over the weekend for two road matches. The Trojans play Windham (1-0) on Friday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. and Cape Elizabeth (1-0) on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 12:30 p.m.

“Tonight showed us we can compete with tough opponents and fight back,” Grant said. “There are going to be lots of those teams, and we need to combine some of the fundamentals aspects with the passion we showed.”

 

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at mmandell@ellsworthamerican.com.

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