CAPE ELIZABETH — The Mount Desert Island High School volleyball team’s 2019 season might be over, but for the Trojans, it was definitely a successful one.
Despite losing to third-ranked Cape Elizabeth 3-0 in Saturday’s Class B North quarterfinals, MDI took a major step forward as a program in 2019. The Trojans quadrupled their win total from the previous season and returned to make their ninth postseason appearance this decade after a one-year hiatus in 2018.
“To go from where we started to where we finished is a great achievement,” head coach Corey Papadopoli said. “Our hitting, serving and passing all improved, and the girls started to believe in themselves.”
MDI faced a very difficult schedule to start the year with four road matches in its first five games. That stretch included a trip to the Portland area for games against Cape Elizabeth and Westbrook along with journeys to Washington County for games against Calais and Washington Academy.
The team went 2-3 over that first stretch. But then, from Sept. 21-Oct. 15 the Trojans went 6-1 and lost just three of the 23 sets they played, only dropping their Sept. 28 match against Greely.
Despite falling just short, MDI’s effort in that Greely match was one that impressed Papadopoli. He also spoke highly of his team’s effort in its Oct. 8 battle with Brewer, a contest that saw the Trojans win their fourth match in five days.
“Those two matches really stand out,” said Papadopoli, whose team was announced Tuesday as the winner of the Class B Good Sportsmanship Award. “We played against two tough teams, and we stayed loud and brought a lot of energy.”
Saturday’s game saw sixth-ranked MDI got off to a hot start against Cape Elizabeth, the two-time defending state champion in Class B. The Trojans (8-7) held the Capers to a 25-18 win in the opening set, but the home team found its groove in the second and third with wins of 25-12 and 25-8, respectively.
“We started the match very strong, but they really [had] control in the last two sets,” Papadopoli said. “Cape is just so solid all the way around, and it’s hard to find a weakness. They’re a very good team.”
MDI will lose three seniors, Ruby Brown, Kate Hoff and Emily York, to graduation. Those three played major roles in MDI’s resurgence this season and were among the Trojans’ stat leaders in nearly every match.
“They contributed in every facet from hitting to passing to defense, Papadopoli said. “They’re also great leaders, and our whole team benefited from that.”
The Trojans will still a variety of experienced players, though, with veterans such as Victoria Del Cid, Kylie Higgins and Isabella Ross returning. After the progress MDI made in 2019, the Trojans will a solid core on which to build when they take to the court in 2020.
“I’m really proud of what we did this year, and I think we can build on it,” Papadopoli said. “They’re all great players and great kids. I love coaching every single one of them.”