It may not have been an entirely straightforward climb to the top, but the Titusville Rockets girls volleyball team managed a sweep against the Erie High School Royals at the former’s season opener at the Launch Pad on Wednesday.
The Rocket women went 25-21, 25-15 and 25-21 across their three matches, a series which only had the consistent rule of being inconsistent.
Opening up play, the score stayed relatively neck-and-neck for the Rockets and Royals in their first match, with one team never seeming to fall too far behind, or at least not for long. While Titusville worked an early lead with a score of 6-3, Erie counterattacked, gaining multiple points while limiting the locals’ scoring opportunities.
After tying the match up 9-9, the Royals shot further ahead to reach 11 points without giving any additions to Titusville’s total in return. The lead was short lived, however, as the Rockets moved to make their own tie game, 12-12, only a few plays after.
From there, the Rockets seemed to find their footing and ran with it, making kill after kill and earning on the Royals’ errors to gain a large lead at 19-14.
While the Rockets pushed into the 20 point range, Erie made their own momentous climb. After the score reached 23-17, a seemingly difficult lead to overcome, the Royals counter attacked to keep Titusville scoreless for several plays, and closed the gap to make it 31-21. However, it would be for naught, as a hit by Rocket senior Sydney Straub and a serve from senior Braelyn Eldred gave Titusville the last two points it needed for the win.
If the first match of the night was a narrow race to the finish, the second game was anything but that. While initially trailing 2-5 in the opening rounds of play, the Rockets began a scoring spree and never looked back.
Scores rolled in by Titusville players such as senior Lydia Waddell and Straub, with the Rockets seeming to make two scores for every one the Royals managed.
The game tied at 10-10, but that was when the Rockets moved in for the kill. While allowing only 3 points by the Royals, Titusville lifted off to reach a score of 20 in relatively short order. Contributors included Straub, junior McKenna Marvin and McKenna Houck.
Victory was closing in for the Rockets, who kept their defense up strong. The Royals only managed to gain 2 more points off of an out-of-bounds serve by Titusville and a wild return attempt on the Rockets’ side.
For a game that went so well for Titusville, the ending came anticlimactically when a Royals’ serve hit the net to give the Rockets the last point for the win.
As big of a win the second match was, it seemed things would go quite differently in the third game of the night. The score stayed close for a little while until the score reached 7-8 in Erie’s favor. The visitors followed with a 5-point-run, widening the gap between the two teams.
Titusville followed with their own streak, but it was cut short at 11-13 before the Royals began earning points again. The Rockets fell behind to 12-16 before they mustered back again, catching up once more, though not gaining the advantage for a while.
It wasn’t until the score became locked at 19-19 that Titusville was finally able to pull ahead again. A shallow hit by Marvin put the locals in the lead, and they never fell behind. Cheered on by a loud audience, the Rockets burst for their final 6 points while giving Erie only 2 in return. It was another softer hit, this one by Straub, that finished off the night.
While happy for the win, Titusville coach Greg Houck had mixed feelings about his team’s play.
“We’re just not consistent,” Houck said. “We played well at times, we could have played better at other times.”
Moving forward, he hopes to emphasize better serving habits and keeping the pressure on for his team. He complimented the Royals’ skills, as despite the shutout, he thought they pushed the Rockets to their limits.
On the positive side for his home team, Houck highlighted senior Amber Scott’s perfect passing record for the night. Scott made 23 positive passes, while making no negative ones.
Straub’s team-leading 11 kills was also another good mark for the Rockets, though Houck said he wishes for the middle hitter to vary up her returns, rather than going for a hard-hitting spike every time.
The Rockets will travel to Franklin for a game tonight. While the Rockets swept the Knights last year, Houck is predicting a hard-fought match.
“Franklin, it’s going to be competitive,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”
The match will begin at 7 p.m.
Ray can be reached, by email, at email@example.com.