Sarah Cole

Titusville’s Sarah Cole (9) goes up to put a swing on the ball during the first set of Thursday’s match against Oil City.

The Titusville Rockets girls volleyball team brought a little more intensity on the attack in the front row during Thursday’s Region 4 match against the visiting Oil City Oilers. Sarah Cole smacked 11 kills, while Ava Hartshorne added nine more to lead the Rockets to a 25-20, 25-8, 25-19 sweep of the Oilers at The Launch Pad.

The victory snapped a two-game skid for Titusville, and was an improvement upon the four-set win at Oil City on Sept. 29.

Sophia McGill added five kills to the offense, while Carly Moon chipped in a pair. Hannah Obert assisted on 27 of Titusville’s 28 kills during the match. Ten aces also propelled the Rockets to victory, with Carly Moon, Maddie Reed and Briana Wynn recording three apiece. Reed also paced the defense with eight digs.

“Our serving was a lot better tonight, especially compared to the first match against them,” Titusville coach Greg Houck said.

It was a back-and-forth first set for the two teams, as Titusville led by a slim 19-18 margin heading into crunch time. The Rockets finished the set on a 6-2 run that included a couple of clutch kills by Hartshorne and Cole to give the Brown and Gold the first set.

Titusville had its most dominant set in game two, matching their best set in region play to this point in the campaign. The Rockets ended the set on a 13-1 stretch and capitalized on Oil City giving them plenty of free balls.

“In the second set, Oil City did not get into their offense and gave us a lot of free balls,” Houck said. “We handled the free ball better tonight in that set.”

Putting away the Oilers wasn’t easy in the final frame. The first six points were split evenly before Titusville pulled ahead 8-4. Oil City grabbed four of the next six points before the Rockets began to pull away for an 18-9 advantage. After Oil City made it a one-point contest, at 20-19, Titusville recorded the final five points of the evening to finish off the sweep.

The victory is the third this season in region play for Titusville (5-7 overall, 3-7 Region 4), but Houck admits that playing in a tough region has made his team better.

“Oil City may not have a lot of wins, but they’re not a bad team,” Houck said. “I knew they’d be a tough win for us, but it was a good win. It would have been interesting if we would have played in the region that we were supposed to play in, but I think we’re better because of the hard teams in our region.”

Titusville begins the final week of the season tonight at Saegertown, where the Rockets will face the Panthers and Corry Beavers in a tri-match beginning at 4. Titusville will then face Warren and Franklin to wrap up Region 4 play on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

“I’m very pleased with where we’re at,” Houck said. “I’ve had teams that get tired and play lackadaisical. Right now, I think we’re playing as well as we have been all year. I would love to split these last four matches but we’ll just keep battling.”

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