Dragons roll past Oil City, advance to semis
COCHRANTON – A little bit of a slow start didn’t phase the Warren Dragons in their District 10 Class 3A quarterfinal match against Oil City on Saturday.
The Oilers jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first game, but no matter, as Warren came back to win 25-16 and followed that up with wins of 25-10 and 25-16 for a 3-0 triumph at Cochranton High School.
“I think we were just a little bit tentative in that first game,” said Warren coach Mike Dolan. “But once we shook that off, I think they were well on their way.”
Back-to-back kills by Lydia Latimer and Ellie Lobdell got them going, and they rallied to take their first lead at 10-9 on another kill by Latimer, part of a 6-0 spurt with Grace Wortman serving.
Oil City was still hanging around at 14-11, but consecutive kills by Jordan Sitler and Ellie Lobdell and another from Celia Chase sparked a quick 4-0 run and back-to-back aces by Julia Lobdell helped close out the set.
“It started with our defense,” Dolan said. “And Lex (Nyquist knows what to do with it and the hitters did their job.”
Nyquist, as she has done all season, set an excellent match, and had to make some adjustments on the fly, with Oil City’s Grace King giving Warren some problems in the middle early on.
Kelsey Dilks was also part of that strong defensive effort.
“Grace King is a good blocker,” Dolan said. “So we had to make an adjustment, go around her and make her move.”
There was no messing around in the second, as Latimer opened with a kill as the Dragons jumped out to a 4-0 advantage and never trailed.
Back-to-back kills by Latimer and Chase made it 8-3 and the lead was extended to 16-6 after a kill by Ellie Lobdell and the Dragons cruised from there, keyed by consecutive aces from Kadee Merenick.
Oil City came out strong in the third, jumping out to a 10-8 lead, by an ace by Chase put Warren up as part of a 4-0 charge.
The Oilers re-took the lead at 13-12, but three consecutive kills, two by Ellie Lobdell and the other by Wortman put the Dragons up for good, as they closed the set and the match on a 9-1 run.
“Even though we were favored in the game, you still have to come out and do it,” Dolan said. “The fans are into it, everybody’s into it. It’s intense and you have to be ready for it. I think last year helped prepare us.”
Leading Warren were Julia Lobdell (3 aces, 6 digs), Latimer (16 kills, 13 digs, 1 block), Merenick (2 aces), Nyquist (35 assists, 6 digs), Sitler (2 kills, 1 dig), Ellie Lobdell (9 kills, 4 aces, 5 digs), Wortman (4 kills, 3 digs) and Chase (9 digs, 6 kills, 4 aces).
The Dragons will now face Villa, a 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 25-23, 15-25, 15-12) winner over Meadville in the semifinals on Thursday at McDowell High School (6 p.m.).
General McLane, a three set winner over Slippery Rock and Conneaut, a four set winner over Fort LeBoeuf, will meet in the other semifinal after the Warren-Villa contest as part of a doubleheader.
“I saw Villa over the summer and they’re good,” Dolan said.