Maplewood’s Trista Robinson (17) sets up teammate Avery Brunot (right) during the third set, Tuesday.

GUYS MILLS — Experience is a pivotal factor, no matter the sport, and it proved to be the biggest factor in Tuesday’s Region 4 opener between the Maplewood Tigers and Titusville Rockets.

Coming off a District 10 Championship game appearance and returning a majority of the starting lineup, Maplewood used its experience to handle its relatively youthful opponent in a 25-8, 25-9, 25-10 sweep at The Woodshed.

Chloe Leech tallied 14 kills and seven digs to pace the undefeated Tigers (2-0 overall, 1-0 Region 4), while Maplewood served up seven aces as a team. Sadie Thomas posted four kills, seven digs and two aces, while Bailey Varndell added 17 assists, four kills and two aces. Madalyn Woge contributed 12 digs and two aces, Kaysea Thomas smashed four kills and Avery Brunot chipped in five kills and two solo blocks.

Maplewood head coach Sheila Bancroft was critical of her team’s passing during Monday’s four-set win against Cochranton, but she was pleased with the improvement in that regard on Tuesday.

“There were a couple more aces that we gave up than I would have liked, but, overall, I thought it was a good night,” Bancroft said.

Ava Hartshorne totaled three kills for the Rockets (0-1), while Brooklyn Wakefield added two kills and seven digs. Maddie Reed amassed 12 digs, while Sarah Cole tallied five digs and two aces. Hannah Obert contributed seven assists, three digs and two aces. 

Maplewood took control from the get-go, using an 11-1 start in the first set to set the tone for the entire match. The Tigers served tough, and the young Rockets struggled to receive those serves, proving detrimental in getting into any sort of offense.

“We’re not passing the ball very well,” Titusville coach Greg Houck said. “They served us off the court. They’re a very good team and they handled us last year at this time. We got a lot better as the year went on so we’re not done yet.” 

Houck’s Rockets have several new faces in the starting lineup and he is asking them to “grow quickly,” as any improvement over the summer was taken out of the equation by the pandemic.

“Our kids have not had a lot of varsity experience,” Houck said. “We have a few girls that played on the varsity team last year, but I’m asking them to do quite a bit more, and that’s the difference.”

Maplewood will return to the court on Thursday when the Tigers travel to Franklin at 7 p.m. Titusville is off until Tuesday, Sept. 22 when the Rockets head to Meadville, at 7 p.m.

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