Sophia McGill

Titusville’s Sophia McGill (28) goes up for the kill during Tuesday’s Region 4 match at Warren.

WARREN — Despite stealing a set, the Titusville Rockets girls volleyball team could not overcome a slow start en route to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the homestanding Warren Dragons. The hosts built a two-set cushion with 25-9 and 25-17 victories before the locals posted a spirited 25-20 score to force a fourth set that the Dragons would ultimately come away with 25-16.

After the match, Rockets head coach Greg Houck noted his team’s result stemmed from a lack of consistency.

“We have things that we can do, but we do not do them consistently,” said Houck. “Consistency is a big word I like to use, and we struggled with it at times tonight.”

Warren opened the contest with seven consecutive points before Sarah Cole tallied the first point for Titusville with a kill set up by Hannah Obert. However, the hosts did not budge, stringing together a 10-1 run to race ahead 17-2, eventually sealing the deal to take a one set to none lead.

The two sides traded leads in the early stages of the second set before the Dragons posted a mini 6-0 run to gain the edge. The locals did, however, find some rhythm towards the end of the set, outscoring their opponent 10-9 after falling behind 16-7. Ava Hartshorne recorded three kills during the set, but the real difference maker for Titusville was the efficiency of the serve.

“Our serving had been a problem at times (this season),” said Houck. “But I thought we served a lot better tonight.”

The Rockets stifled Warren for nine service aces over the match, including three in the second set.

Facing what would have been the second sweep by the Dragons this season, the locals turned up the intensity in the third set.

Brooklyn Wakefield got the ball rolling, or flying, when a perfectly placed set up from Obert was drilled into the Warren back line by the senior hitter. Wakefield followed that up with one of her two service aces to give the Rockets a 2-0 lead to begin the set. The Dragons answered right back, nevertheless, and from there the two teams went back-and-forth deep into the set.

A key moment in the set for Titusville came with the score at 17-16 in favor of Warren. Having trailed 16-11 just moments earlier, the locals climbed their way back in contention with the longest rally of the match that included several heads up saves on both sides of the net, but the Rockets capped the comeback with a monster strike from Cole that sent chills down the backs of every Titusville faithful in attendance.

With momentum on their side, the locals rallied off six straight points, highlighted by back-to-back aces from Cole and a rally-starting kill by Mackenna Marvin to earn Titusville a set win, cutting Warren’s lead in half.

“I think we got on the floor a little bit and we started believing,” said Houck when asked about his team’s bounce-back effort in the third set. “The biggest thing was not giving points up so easily. We passed and received the ball better.”

The hosts stood their ground in the fourth, and ultimately deciding set, fighting off a furious battle to lock up the win.

“The first set, I thought we laid down,” explained Houck. “The second, third and fourth we battled, and that is all I have ever asked for this season. Warren is a good match for us, and we made them fight tonight.”

Marvin and Cole paced the Rockets’ attack with seven and six kills, respectively. Obert contributed 19 assists, while Maddie Reed pitched in 18 digs.

Warren (8-9 overall, 6-5 Region 4) was led on the attack by Jordan Sitler’s 11 kills and four blocks, and  Hannah Shattuck’s six kills. Halee Mineweaser chipped in 25 assists, eight digs, three kills and two blocks. Katie Madigan added 19 digs, eight aces and five assists. Meredith Morrison had 12 digs.

“I think we have been a lot better,” said Houck when asked about how his team has performed since the first matchup with Warren. “I do not think we fully showed it tonight, but the last few matches we have been competitive against some real good teams. We started to turn the corner after the last time we played (Warren).”

Titusville, now 5-10 overall and 3-8 in Region 4, will have one final regular season contest, set for tomorrow at Franklin at 7 p.m.

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