BAR HARBOR, Maine — This was unfamiliar territory for the Calais Blue Devils, but for the Mount Desert Island Trojans, Wednesday afternoon’s Eastern Maine volleyball championship match was just your normal, late-season event.
And it showed.
While the No. 3 Blue Devils played very well in spurts, it was the top-seeded and unde-feated Trojans who used a steady, consistent style of play to make it look easy in a three-game sweep of Calais, 25-19, 26-24, and 25-19 at Parady Gym.
“It may have looked easy, but it wasn’t,” said senior outside hitter Hannah Adelmann, who helped the 16-0 Trojans make it 5-for-5 in regional finals play since 2003.
The Trojans earned a re-match with defending state champ Greely of Cumberland Center in a 1 p.m. state final at Ellsworth High on Saturday.
“It doesn’t feel like a huge game only because we’ve had a perfect season and we were in states last year, so it’s kind of been all about getting back to states,” said MDI junior Mollie Strout, who was 13-for-15 on serves with six aces.
It was Strout’s service that helped the Trojans make up a six-point deficit — their biggest of the entire match — and close the Devils out as she ran off six straight points to get the Tro-jans to game and match point (24-17) in the third game.
“Normally, when people serve diagonally and opposite, they don’t serve it that deep, but she has a really hard serve that goes all the way into the opposite corner and we don’t see that too often,” said Calais coach Stephen McGinley, whose Devils finish up 11-6. “We did have a tough time ad-justing to that. As a team, they served very well overall.”
That’s been one of this team’s strengths all season.
“We set a record for aces as a team with over 400,” said MDI head coach Todd Brophy.
Not bad for a team that lost five starters — three all-state selections — to graduation.
“When we first started try-outs, I was just praying for some height,” Brophy said. “Fortunately, we got that. I’m playing a freshman and two sophomores, but we also have several players with three years of state championship experience.”
That experience was obvious as the Trojans seized momen-tum early by taking a 9-3 lead in the first game and never let it get away for too long afterward.
“This is the most momen-tum-based sport I’ve ever been involved in. Things can change on a dime,” said McGinley. “We made some great runs to get back into it, especially that sec-ond game, which could have gone either way. The second game can really be the key and it was for us today.”
The Trojans took leads of 7-2, 14-7, and 21-14 before Calais rallied with four straight and five of the next six points to make it 22-19. Calais tied it up at 24-all by scoring five straight as Rebecca Blake served four of them. A stuff at the net made it 25-24 MDI and Adelmann served it out with an ace.
“Our defense this year has gotten a lot better, which is good because that was our iffy point last year. It’s pulled us through a lot of games,” said Adelmann, who was motivated by pressure as well.
“I definitely didn’t want to be part of the senior class to ruin the Eastern Maine champion-ship streak we have going,” she said with a chuckle.
Game three looked like an-other gut check for MDI as Cal-ais jumped out to an 8-2 lead.
“That game was probably one of the hardest I’ve had to coach because I did not want to call timeout and let them know they were getting to us,” Bro-phy said.
The match was still a posi-tive end to a great season for the Devils, who beat Washing-ton Academy — a team they’d lost to twice — in the semis to get a shot at the Trojans.
“This is the furthest we’ve advanced. I thought we had the size, athleticism and talent to do it, but we had to iron out a few kinks early in the season and find our identity,” McGin-ley said. The last few weeks, we’ve played great volleyball.”