ELLSWORTH — With little separating the Mount Desert Island High School and Ellsworth High School volleyball teams last Wednesday, every point mattered.
Each serve, kill, block and volley brought roars from both ends of the floor at Ellsworth’s Katsiaficas Gymnasium. Leads changed constantly, and no advantage seemed safe.
Although fans of both teams made plenty of noise, the Ellsworth and MDI benches provided the bulk of the racket. With both teams hoping to earn a vital win, it was the visitors who outlasted the home team to get it.
MDI edged Ellsworth in three tightly contested sets Wednesday to record a 25-22, 25-23, 31-29 victory. The match served to energize both of Hancock County’s Class B volleyball teams as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.
Although neither team led by more than three points throughout a back-and-forth first set that ultimately resulted in a narrow MDI win, Ellsworth opened up a big lead in the second. Riding key kills and blocks from Olivia Robidoux and Samantha Simmons, the Eagles surged to an 18-9 advantage that put them in position to even the match at one set apiece.
MDI, though, would engineer a fierce comeback. After the Trojans cut Ellsworth’s lead to 23-22, a clutch block from junior Ruby Brown tied the score and gave the visitors the momentum they needed to win the next two points and take a two-set lead.
Ellsworth (2-5) led by six points twice in the third set, first when it went ahead 12-6 and again when it won five straight points after MDI had cut the lead to 14-13. Yet the Trojans fought back once again and outlasted the Eagles in a marathon final set that lasted 60 points.
“We definitely put ourselves in some holes in those second and third sets, but we were able to stay alert, which is something we talked about a lot in practice leading up to tonight,” coach Corey Papadopoli said. “The serving could have been a bit better at times, but when the girls needed those clutch points to come back, they got them.”
Brown and Julia Link provided a team-high five aces for the Trojans, and Brown also led the team in digs with five. Victoria Del Cid was the team leader in assists with 13, and junior Kate Hoff provided five blocks.
The win was a crucial one for Papadopoli and MDI, which is now just one spot short of the final Class B playoff spot in ninth place. Papadopoli took a year off as head coach last season, but the chance to lead this bunch of MDI players was all the reason he needed to come back in 2018.
“I came back because I love the girls,” Papadopoli said. “This is really just a great group of players to coach, and they work hard and play for each other.”
MDI (2-6) lost 3-2 on the road against Cony on Saturday and was scheduled to play Washington Academy (6-1) on Tuesday and Brewer on Wednesday. The Trojans will host Yarmouth at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Gorham at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, before facing Ellsworth in the rematch.
“The schedule ahead is still challenging, but now we have some momentum on our side as we go forward from here,” Papadopoli said. “I think both teams are going to build off this in a big way.”