Volleyball: Front-row blocking stands out in loss to Kaneland

Senior Payton Hale (middle) leads a cheer after scoring a point for the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity volleyball team during Thursday's match against Kaneland. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Hale shines as Lady Hubs falter late in 16-25, 25-20, 8-15 defeat

ROCHELLE — After a tough loss against Sycamore on Tuesday, energy and intensity were high for the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity volleyball team on Thursday, when the girls hosted the Kaneland Knights and aimed to remain near the top of the Interstate 8 Conference standings.

Despite a strong defensive effort on the block and a resilient second-set performance, receiving errors proved costly for the Lady Hubs, who committed 14 of them in a 16-25, 25-20, 8-25 loss to the Knights on Thursday. Senior Payton Hale shined for Rochelle in the match, leading the Lady Hubs in three statistical categories including kills (eight), digs (six) and blocks (three).

“Payton has really found her rhythm,” head coach Molly Sly said. “She’s been very consistent for us in the back row, but she’s really found her rhythm in the front row. She’s one of our best serve receivers when we face good serving teams and we had to pull her back more often than we normally do, but they didn’t serve her the ball and I thought that made a huge difference.”

Kaneland took advantage of multiple receiving errors from the Lady Hubs (8-7-3, 2-2 Interstate 8) in the first set, taking a 10-5 lead after a 5-0 run and preserving the lead with a flurry of tips and kills that found small holes in the Rochelle defense. The Lady Hubs began to turn up on the block midway through the second set, where Hale as well as sophomores Taelynn Rodeghero and Alison Ohlinger denied several Kaneland kill attempts to ignite a 8-0 Rochelle rally.

“Kaneland runs a quick offense, but I thought our girls really wanted it tonight,” Sly said. “They went out there and were able to get touches on the ball when we needed them… The girls set goals before the season and they want to be a top-2 team in our conference. We have to take a match from either Kaneland or Sycamore to do that. That was where the fire came from tonight.”

The 8-0 run erased a 17-13 deficit and allowed Rochelle to surge ahead late in the second set, where kills from senior Addie Friestad and junior Kennedy Adamski helped secure the win and extend the match into a third-set tiebreaker. Friestad finished with five kills in the match, while Adamski totaled two kills and Ohlinger dished out 14 assists. Senior Macy Ramos recorded five digs and two service aces for the Lady Hubs, who are at LaSalle-Peru on Tuesday at 6 p.m.