AUGUSTA — The Gardiner volleyball team completed its first goal of its 2022 season. Now, it’s on to the second: A run through the Class B playoffs.

The Tigers topped rival Cony 3-0 on Tuesday night. Gardiner finished the regular season 14-0 for a second straight season. It is 30-1 dating to the start of last season, with the lone loss coming to Cape Elizabeth 3-0 in a state semifinal last fall.

“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Gardiner head coach Tiffany Ouellete said. “They’ve worked so hard this year to have an undefeated (regular) season. We’re really excited.”

The playoff fields were finalized Wednesday, and the Tigers earned the No. 2 seed in Class B. It will host a quarterfinal match Saturday.

Cony (8-6) earned the No. 8 seed in Class B and will host No. 9 Greely (8-6) in a prelim match Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The Tigers were excited about completing a perfect regular season, but noted it’s a step toward a larger goal they fell short of last season.


“It feels amazing,” Gardiner senior Lizzy Gruber said. “To finish where we were last year, now we just want to take it just a little bit further, complete some work that we left unfinished. We’re ready to go, we’re ready to get to the playoffs.”

Gardiner beat Cony on Tuesday night with a heavy dose of the dominant 6-foot-4 Gruber. With the mix of both her height and athleticism, Gruber once again knocked down several spikes and blocks. Junior Yana Montell and senior Maddie Inman helped round out the attack for the Tigers.

Gardiner’s Lizzy Gruber, center, spikes the ball toward Cony players Addison Lebel, left, and Jasmyne Mills during a volleyball match Tuesday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It seems like when we play stronger teams, it’s easier to get the bump-set-spike kind of motion, which is really what we thrive on,” Gruber said. “So we’re excited to get into the playoffs and see some other teams that do that kind of thing as well.”

Gardiner rolled through the first two sets, 25-13 and 25-11. But Cony refused to quit, going back-and-forth with the Tigers in the third set. The Rams led 11-5 at one point. The Tigers and Rams would continue to trade points before a spike by Montell capped the set 27-25 to finish off the match.

“We’ve been working hard on communicating, we play better when we communicate and have more energy,” Ouellete said. “That’s been something we’ve really been working on… It was a little bit down tonight and we tried to pick it up. That’s something that you can’t really coach, that’s something (players) have to do. But they did good, overall.”

Despite the loss, Cony head coach Lindsey Morin was thrilled with her team’s resolve. Cony won six of its final nine matches, with its only setbacks coming to Gardiner and Messalonskee. Cony currently sits No. 8 in Class B Heal points.

“Our goal was to win a set, we were really close and we were really hoping for it,” Morin said. “But I just think it was a really good rally back and forth and it just didn’t end in our favor.

“We started this season a little rocky, but we knew Gardiner and Messalonskee would be tough competitors. I think we’re in playoffs for the first time in a handful of years. It helps to have a bunch of seniors and some upcoming sophomores that swung up, but we’re liking the team vibe and the way they compliment each other.”

Gardiner will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, just behind Yarmouth (13-1).

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