April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Volleyball: Titans’ LEL title hopes take a hit

LORAIN — Lynne Rositano had what may be the highest praise a coach can bestow on an opposing player.

“I hope she’s a senior,” Rositano said about Maple Heights’ Taylor Lattimore.

No such luck. Lattimore is only a junior. Barring the unforeseen, Lattimore will be back next season to bedevil rivals the way she bedeviled Lorain in Maple Heights’ four-game victory over the Titans on Thursday night.

The Mustangs beat Lorain 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-17. The victory put Maple Heights in command in the Lake Erie League with a 10-0 record (14-3 overall).

Lorain is now 8-2 in the league and 11-4 overall.

And Lattimore has one more season to try to break her school record for digs in a match. She set the mark Thursday with 36.

“She’s the best I have seen … ever,” Rositano said. “That made a big difference. When you’re getting dug 36 times it gets in your head.”

And when Lattimore was not thwarting the Titans’ hitters in the back row, the tall, talented Mustangs were busy blocking Lorain’s attempts to drive the ball to the floor. Maple Heights had 16 block kills, with 15 coming in the three games the Mustangs won.

“They have big girls who are great blockers,” senior Alexis Castro said of Maple Heights. “We tried to get around them, but they were very scrappy.”

“If we didn’t get blocked they were passing all our balls,” senior Kayla Lurry added. “That libero of there’s (Lattimore) is just so good. She’s everywhere. She’s unbelievable.”

“We played well,” Rositano said. “We played better this time than we did the other time we played them (also a four-game loss Sept. 4). We had a good offense against a good blocking team. We played smart, most of the time.”

Courtney Warner led Maple Heights with 12 kills and six block kills. Arielle Sanders added 11 kills and three block kills. Ciauna Banks also had three block kills.

“They hit around our blocking,” Rositano said. “They did things that made us look to be a step behind.”

The Titans weren’t a step behind in Game 1. Lorain broke an 8-8 tie with seven points in a row while Katelyn Gonzalez was serving. Maple Heights crept to within 23-21 before a bad serve and a vicious kill by Marlena Guice ended it.

Guice and Lurry had four kills each in Game 1.

Maple Heights went on a 10-4 burst to open a 17-12 lead in the second game. Lorain fought back to get to within 22-21, but couldn’t get over the hump. Game 3 was a see-saw battle with Lorain ahead 23-22 before three straight hitting errors gave the game to the Mustangs.

The Titans trailed 9-4 in the fourth game but battled back to tie it at 11. That was the last deadlock as Maple Heights went on an 8-3 run and never let Lorain rally. The Mustangs had six block kills in the final game.

Guice and Castro led Lorain with 10 kills each. Lurry had nine kills and four block kills. Guice had five digs and Serena Rodriguez led Lorain with 34 assists. Castro had six solo blocks and served a pair of aces.

Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or stephenbyrne@att.net.