A terrific season
Dragons fall to McLane in D-10 title game
CORRY – Playing in its first-ever District 10 final, Warren had already made history, they were just looking for a little more.
General McLane and Maddie Soboleski didn’t let that happen, however, as it was the Lancers erasing some past playoff disappointments of their own in a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-16) win that gave them the District 10 3A volleyball title on Saturday at Corry High School.
Despite coming up just a bit short, Warren coach Mike Dolan couldn’t have been more proud of his team.
“I told them in the huddle after the game how proud I was of them,” he said. “We had a great season and they have been a great group to coach.”
The first two games truly couldn have went either way. When one team made a run, the other would counter immediately.
Nerves also appeared to play a factor in the early going, as uncharacteristic service errors by both sides led to some unchallenged points.
“We came in with a lot of nerves with it being a championship game,” said McLane coach Danielle Hayes. “After we got the first set out of the way, the girls settled down.”
It was the Lancers (17-0) that jumped out to an early 5-2 lead after an emphatic kill by Soboleski, the first of 30 on the afternoon for the senior and University of Pittsburgh commit.
Several times the lead swelled for GM, as they got it to 11-5 before a kill by Celia Chase stopped that rally, but they again took a 6-point advantage at 17-11 after a Dragon service error.
Warren (14-4), like they have done time and again this season, fought right back, with Chase and Jordan Sitler doing the heavy lifting.
A block by Sitler and a kill by Chase made it 17-14 and two more kills by Chase and one more by Sitler had the score knotted at 19-19, the first tie since the start of the set.
With the score tied at 20-20, a service error by the Dragons and an ace by McLane’s Mia Schaller on a ball that looked like it might be heading out but just managed to stay inside the line put GM up for good.
“Defensively, I thought they were just a little bit better than we were,” Dolan said. “I thought if we executed offensively we had a good shot because of the strength of our hitters, and I thought they played well.”
McLane jumped out to an 8-5 lead in the second game, but Warren made it 8-8 after back-to-back aces by junior Lydia Latimer.
The Dragons took their first lead of the game, 12-11 on a GM service error and made it 13-11 after a kill from Ellie Lobdell.
Warren’s offensive attack was strong as Dolan alluded to, with setter Lex Nyquist putting her hitters in good position all match long, and they took advantage with some big swings.
The second continued to be nip-and-tuck, with a kill by Grace Wortman tying it up at 17-all and Warren taking a 19-18 lead on a big swing by Chase.
That was the last lead they would get however, as Soboleski took over down the stretch, with McLane rattling off seven of the final nine points for the 25-21 win.
Down 2-0, the Dragons had visions of another big comeback, much like the one they staged against Villa in the semifinals on Thursday.
“Like I said after the comeback on Thursday, even when they’re down, they just have this look in their eyes of total confidence,” Dolan said.
The confidence didn’t waver in the third, but GM put them in a big hole early, jumping out to an 8-1 lead.
Warren’s defense was put to the test time and again by the big hitting of Soboleski and Ellec Scouten.
“Maddie Soboleski is a really good player and she played well today,” Dolan said.
Both Lobdell’s, Julia and Ellie, as well as Latimer and Kelsey Dilks came up with big dig after big dig to keep points alive, eventually allowing Warren to get back into the set.
Consecutive kills by Ellie Lobdell and Wortman got Warren to within 12-8, and a pair of kills by Latimer and an ace from Kadee Merenick put them within three, 18-15, prompting Hayes to call timeout.
That timeout did wonders for McLane, as, instead of Warren completing the comeback, the Lancers went on a run much like they did to open the set, closing out the match and the District 10 championships.
Leading Warren statistically were Latimer (14 digs, 13 kills, 3 aces, 1 block), Ellie Lobdell (24 digs, 7 kills, 4 assists, 1 block), Wortman (3 kills, 2 digs, 1 block), Chase (12 kills, 9 digs), Sitler (2 blocks, 1 kill), Julia Lobdell (11 digs), Dilks (2 digs), Nyquist (29 assists, 6 digs, 1 ace) and Merenick (1 ace).
Soboleski finished with the aforementioned 30 kills to go along with 11 digs, while Schaller had 16 digs, Hailey Ingalls 31 assists and Scouten five kills.
McLane will meet Thomas Jefferson, a 3-2 winner over West Allegheny in the WPIAL third place match, in the first round of the state playoffs on Tuesday.
For the Dragons, the loss was still fresh moments after, but they were able to reflect positively.
“It really was a great season, and our seniors did a great job of stepping up and being leaders,” he said.
Those seniors – Dilks, Jessie Sweigart and Emily Hannak, leave a positive legacy for the program, one the Dragons will look to continue.
It’s a team that will be returning a lot of talent, and it’s fair to say they will be a team to be reckoned with in 2018.
“We never talk about next year, but I think it’s safe to say the expectations will be high,” Dolan said.