Members of the Gardiner volleyball team celebrate after scoring a point during a Class B girls volleyball quarterfinal against Gray-New Gloucester on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at Gardiner Area High School (Photo by David Bailey/Kennebec Journal)

GARDINER — The Gardiner volleyball team proved to be a tall order for Gray-New Gloucester on Saturday.

Let by 6-foot-4 senior Lizzie Gruber, the second-seeded Tigers swept the No. 7 Patriots in three sets (25-22, 25-16, 25-20) in a Class B quarterfinal at Gardiner Area High School and remained unbeaten at 15-0.

In Wednesday’s semifinal, Gardiner will face No. 6 Mount Desert Island, a 3-0 winner over No. 3 Cape Elizabeth on Saturday, Gardiner and MDI did not meet in the regular season.

Gray-New Gloucester (9-7) put up a fight before dropping the first set, and led 8-6 in the second before Gardiner took 13 of the next 14 points, thanks to Gruber’s kills with support from teammate Maddie Inman.

“We came out pretty strong, and keeping that up is something we’ve definitely got to work on,” Gruber said. “Overall, we kept it up the entire way through, and there’s just a few little things we want to clean up, and then we’ll play much stronger for the rest of the way.”

While teammates such as Inman, Emily Grady, Yana Montell had strong games, Gruber adds an extra dimension when on the front line, and is always a threat to fire the ball over the net and strike the court before any foes can react.


“We like to keep her up front as long as we can,” Tigers coach Tiffany Ouellette said. “She’s a power hitter, so we like to use her in the middle and outside.”

Only, a second-year program, GNG is one of only two schools to take a set from Gardiner this season, having lost 3-1 on Sept. 21. (Messalonskee took three sets from Gardiner over the course of two losses.) But Ouellette said her team has come a long way over the last month.

Gardiner volleyball coach Tiffany Ouellette speaks to her team between sets of a Class B girls volleyball quarterfinal against Gray-New Gloucester on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at Gardiner Area High School. Gardiner won, 3-0. (Photo by David Bailey/Kennebec Journal)

“I think we’ve played a lot cleaner this time,” the coach said. “We played them early on in the season, when we were trying to figure things out. I think we passed better, our setting is much cleaner now, and our hitting is doing really well.”

While GNG coach Gary Powers was proud of his team’s effort, the Patriots needed to show more consistency, he said.

“We’re having a hard time maintaining the battle,” he said. “We’ll battle, then we’ll we sort of let down, then we’ll battle back. At this level, you can’t let them get that far ahead. But we’re young; I’m happy with the progress. We played well, and we had moments where we were outplaying them, but we had mistakes.”

Gardiner built up a big lead early in the first set thanks the strong serving of Grady, but GNG fought back to knot the score at 10-all. The Tigers quickly regained the lead and held off the Patriots to take the set.

In the second set, Gardiner took nine straight points following its early deficit. After the Tigers took a 19-7 lead, Powers called timeout and the Patriots took four straight points, but Gardiner held off GNG again to take the set.

The Tigers took a quick 8-1 lead in the final set before the Patriots cut the deficit to 11-9. But Gardiner took 11 of the next 15 points to pull away.

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