November 27, 2014

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High school volleyball: Lorain’s big chance slips away early in first-place battle with Maple Heights

Lorain's Marlena Guice hits the ball past Maple Heights' Ammaarah Williams Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONCILE

Lorain’s Marlena Guice hits the ball past Maple Heights’ Ammaarah Williams Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONCILE

LORAIN — If the Lorain volleyball team had any thoughts of avenging an earlier three-set road loss to Maple Heights, moving past the Mustangs in the standings in the process, those were put to rest quickly.

Maple Heights (15-3, 8-1 Lake Erie League) dominated from start to finish, breezing past the Titans in three sets, 25-16, 25-15 and 25-18, to remain tied with Warrensville Heights atop the conference.

“This was a very important game because there was a three-way tie in the conference,” Mustangs coach Betty Smerglia said.

“We have a lot of respect for Lorain and knew, at their place, we would have to be ready.”

Maple Heights used a 6-0 serving run from freshman Ammaarah Williams to take control of the first set.

Senior middle hitter Courtney Warner had five of her match-high 15 kills in the first set, as well, while the Titans were plagued by mistakes.

Lorain had seven unforced errors in the first and, despite four kills from senior outside hitter Marlena Guice, after Williams’ service run Lorain never threatened.

The second set was more of the same. Warner driving kills past the Lorain defense, Maple Heights dominating the net and the Titans unable to get anything to the floor on the Mustangs’ side of the net.

“We were real frustrated because we wanted to beat this team so badly,” Lorain senior setter Serena Rodriguez said. “We got frustrated when we got down. … I could see it on everyone’s faces. We really struggled in the beginning.”

Lorain showed signs of life in the third set, and when Destiny Wilson hammered one of her eight kills in the match, the Titans led 7-6.

But the Mustangs scored six of the next seven points, all on Williams’ serve, to take command of the set.

They would not trail again.

“We just couldn’t get a ball on the floor,” Lorain coach Lynne Rositano said. “Our serve-receive was a little off and that was the thing we’ve been stressing. We know we’re only going to score points if we swing, and we just weren’t able to get the ball in our setter’s hands.”

Mustangs senior libero Taylor Lattimore, who received first-team all-district honors last season, controlled the match from the back line. She ended up with 33 digs — and the respect of everyone on the other side of the net.

“Their defense is incredible and their libero is amazing,” Rositano said. “She has been every time we’ve played them. I’m glad she’s a senior, to be honest.”

Rodriguez was surprised by some of the plays Lattimore was able to make.

“Their libero is everywhere,” she said. “There were some balls I’m still shocked she even got a piece of, let alone got it up. She’s an amazing player.”

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or macsportstalk@gmail.com.