Brooklyn Wakefield

Titusville’s Brooklyn Wakefield (12) takes a swing during Thursday’s season finale against Franklin. Wakefield totaled a team-high 10 kills in the match.

FRANKLIN — It didn’t come easy, but the Titusville Rockets girls volleyball team ended the 2020 campaign on a positive note. Storming into the Knights Castle on Thursday night, Titusville held on to beat homestanding Franklin 25-19, 25-11, 26-28, 25-21, in Region 4 play and the final match for both teams in the season.

The Rocket attack posted one of its higher scoring games of the season, as the visitors amassed 40 total kills. Brooklyn Wakefield led the charge with 10 kills. Ava Hartshorne and Mackenna Marvin added nine each, as Sophia McGill contributed eight. Hannah Obert totaled 39 assists and Maddie Reed headed the defense with her 16 digs.

On a night that felt like a rollercoaster, at times, Titusville surged ahead early by recording the first five points of the match. The cushion gave the visitors a buffer to work with in the first set, as the Knights were never closer than two points from tying the score in the opening stanza. It wasn’t the cleanest of sets for both sides, but the Rockets were able to collect the 25-19 victory for a 1-0 advantage in the match.

Set two proved to be the sharpest of the night for Titusville. The Rockets repeated their first-set success by notching the opening five tallies and did not allow their hosts to gain more than three consecutive points in the frame. Wakefield served up three aces in the set, while McGill had three kills as the Rockets pulled in front 2-0 in the match.

In the third set, Titusville appeared to be on their way to an easy sweep. The Rockets used a 6-0 run in the middle of the set to earn a 19-11 advantage. However, an ensuing 10-1 Franklin run thanks to a string of 10 Titusville hitting errors gave the Knights second life.

“I was so happy with how we had played until that stretch in the third set,” Titusville coach Greg Houck said. “I thought we were focused and in tune. When you get somebody down, you have to finish them off because in volleyball, if you let them off, you might not win.”

Franklin gained a 23-22 lead a few points later, but Titusville responded to earn match point at 24-23. But, the Knights would not go away. Franklin fended off three match points before closing the set out on a three-point run to earn a thrilling 28-26 set win for the home bench. All of a sudden, with the momentum clearly on the home side, Titusville felt like they had their backs against the wall despite having a 2-1 lead in the match.

“Franklin was really scrappy, but we had several errors and let them back in the game,” Houck said. “We were passing the ball and getting decent sets, but we weren’t hitting the ball. I just felt like our concentration went. We were worrying about other things and, all of a sudden, the game became less important until it became important again.”

Two Franklin miscues and a Hartshorne kill allowed Titusville to catch its collective breath and take a 3-0 lead in game four. However, the Knights knotted the score at 6-6 a few points later and kept it within one point, at 10-9, near the midway point of the frame. 

The one-point lead would be the slimmest Titusville would have the rest of the way, as the Rockets recorded seven of the next nine points en route to finishing off the Knights by a 25-21 margin.

In a match full of momentum swings, the Rockets were able to send off their four seniors — Marvin, McGill, Obert and Wakefield — with the victory in their final contest in the Brown and Gold. Titusville finished the season with a 6-10 overall and 4-8 Region 4 record.

“(The seniors) played really well tonight,” Houck said. “The biggest thing I could say about all of our girls because of the seniors is that through the COVID stuff and not knowing if we were going to play, they never worried about the fans not being in the gym, or whether we were playing tomorrow or not. They just kept playing and it didn’t matter. They didn’t complain. I think it’s a testament to the seniors that they took the opportunity and it was a fun year. Our schedule was really tough. We got better playing better teams, but they didn’t complain about not getting as many wins.”

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