Lady Dragons rally for thrilling win on senior night

The Lady Dragons are far from finished with district playoffs now less than a week away, but Tuesday’s match against Conneaut was still a fitting send-off for the team’s four seniors.

On senior night at Warren Area High School, the Lady Dragons rallied from a big deficit in the deciding fifth set to wrap up an important Region 4 victory. Trailing by six, Haley Nelson stepped up and served nine straight points to help lift her team to a 15-12 win.

“When Haley went back to serve she put the pressure on them and we had a couple nice defensive plays that helped us come back,” said Warren coach Mike Dolan. “I think the second set when we were down five or so late and they came back and won, that gave them the belief that they could do it.”

After dropping a back-and-forth opening set 23-25, the Lady Dragons found themselves behind early in the second before rallying to tie things up, 17-17. Haley Tuller and Nelson delivered back-to-back kills to put Warren up two and forced Conneaut to call a timeout.

The break seemed to have helped as the Lady Eagles scored five consecutive points only to see Warren fight back to tie the set once again at 23-23. From there, Celia Chase came through with two big kills including the game winner as the Lady Dragons took a 26-24 victory.

That momentum carried over to the third set with Warren rolling to a 25-14 win finalized by an Ellie Lobdell kill. Conneaut wasn’t about to go away quietly, however, and handed Warren a 10-25 loss in the fourth to even the match at two sets apiece.

The Lady Eagles jumped ahead quickly in the deciding fifth set until Nelson stepped up to serve. Her run took the score to 14-11 in favor of the Lady Dragons before Conneaut was able to stop the bleeding, but the ensuing serve sailed out of bounds for the final point.

Nelson finished with 15 kills and 11 digs for the Lady Dragons while Lydia Latimer added 13 kills, three blocks and three aces. Megan Wortman had nine kills to go along with three blocks and 10 digs, Tuller had four kills and two blocks, and Chase had eight kills and 19 digs.

Hunter Uplinger had a big night on defense with 34 digs while Lobdell racked up 40 assists with 14 digs.

“The seniors really came through for us tonight,” Dolan said in reference to Nelson, Tuller, Uplinger and Wortman.

Warren, Conneaut and Meadville entered the week in a three-way tie for second place in Region 4. Warren’s win over the Lady Eagles and Meadville’s win over Oil City on Tuesday means those teams finish tied for second at 10-4 in league matches – Warren and Meadville split the season series with both matches going five sets.

Warren and Meadville will now wait to find out who will be the region’s top seed for the District 10 Class 3A playoffs. Corry is the Region 4 Champion with a perfect 15-0 record, but competes in Class 2A.

The Lady Dragons (11-4 overall, 10-4 in Region 4) travel to DuBois for a non-region match on Thursday and will begin their playoff run Tuesday, November 1.

“They should have a lot of confidence by now,” Dolan said. “I keep telling them they’ve played at a high level now for the last few weeks, and winning a high-profile game like this against a really good team should give them even more of a boost.”

Brackets for the District 10 volleyball playoffs are expected to be finalized as early as Wednesday. Warren will be the only local team in the postseason after Youngsville and Eisenhower chose to opt out in Class 1A.

Warren fell to Conneaut in Tuesday’s junior varsity match, 7-25 and 10-25. Jessie Sweigart had a pair of kills and Paige Sumrow added six digs for the Lady Dragons.