Dragons battle defending state champ Corry for four games

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren’s Celia Chase notches a kill during Tuesday’s match against Corry at the Warren Area Elementary Center.

From the decibel level of the crowd to the play on the court, Tuesday’s volleyball match between Warren and Corry had the feel of a state playoff battle.

Corry, the defending 2A state champions, has been in plenty of those before – Warren now knows they are capable of doing so.

While the Dragons suffered a 3-1 (17-25, 27-29, 25-22, 11-25) setback, they did manage to take a game from the Beavers – the first time any Region 4 team has done so this season.

“I think it did,” said Warren coach Mike Dolan in reference to if his team realizes they are capable of playing at that level. “I don’t think they know how high they can go. I hope this gives them the confidence that they can play with anybody.”

In fact, had things gone just a little bit differently, Warren might have been staring at a win.

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren’s Jordan Sitler notches a kill during Tuesday’s match against Corry at the Warren Area Elementary Center.

After dropping the first game 25-17, Corry jumped out to a 6-0 lead, prompting Dolan to call a timeout.

His team responded, reeling off 13-7 run to tie the game, with Lydia Latimer and Celia Chase each notching a pair of kills.

Warren took its first lead, 16-14, on a kill by Grace Wortman and led by as many as three, 18-15, after a kill by Latimer.

The Dragons took a 24-23 lead on a Corry service error and had four chances to close out the game. But Corry, like great teams do, answered the challenge, ultimately claiming a 29-27 win and a 2-0 lead.

“After that, it took us a while to get into that third game,” Dolan said. “If we had that momentum coming in, it might have been different.”

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren’s Julia Lobdell gets set to serve during Tuesday’s match against visiting Corry.

Corry once against jumped out to a big lead, this time 7-0, before Warren got on the board with a kill from Wortman. Again, they battled back, with Latimer, Chase, Ellie Lobdell and Jordan Sitler attacking the net, as setter Lex Nyquist routinely put them in good position.

Still, they trailed 20-15, but Latimer stepped up in a big way, serving seven consecutive points, including an ace, to make it 24-21.

Corry cut the lead to 24-22, but Sitler, a freshman, had the game-winning kill.

“The first time we played them, we didn’t’ take advantage of the opportunities that we had,” Dolan said. “We kind of talked about that. This time, we really took some good chances, especially in those second and third games. We attacked them and kept the pressure on them. If you don’t put any pressure on them, they’re going to pound you.”

The Dragons might have ran out of gas in the fourth game. Leading 6-5, Corry went on a 14-2 run to take command.

Still, their was plenty of action, both on the court and off, as a timeout call by Dolan was granted just before Corry was ready to serve, sending both Corry coach Kelly Goodsel and both student sections into an uproar.

Not that much was needed to get the crowd going, however, as they were loud right from the get-go.

“That’s unquestionably the best crowd we’ve had,” Dolan said. “The Flannel Panel was great and this place was loud.

Leading the Dragons were Latimer (17 kills, 2 aces), Lobdell (9 kills), Sitler (7 kills), Chase (6 kills, 2 aces), Nyquist (37 assists, 9 digs) and Wortman (4 kills, 2 aces).

Julia Lobdell and Kelsey Dilks also played strong defensive games.

The Dragons travel to Slippery Rock on Thursday before contests against Franklin and Conneaut next week.

“This is what we needed,” Dolan said. “We have to go down to Conneaut next week. That’s huge. That’s for second place in the region and the top 3A seed. If we play like we did tonight, I’ll be happy.”

Corry won the JV match 2-0.

Ailsa Boger had 3 kills and 2 digs.