ROCHELLE — Thursday evening marked the first victory of the Molly Sly era as the Rochelle varsity volleyball team swept the Dixon Duchesses in its home opener to bounce back from a tough loss against Ashton-Franklin Center on Tuesday.
The Lady Hubs outlasted Dixon in the opening set before cruising past the Duchesses in the second set to claim the match 25-23, 25-10. Rochelle (1-1) will look to build on its momentum at the Rockford East Invitational this weekend.
“It feels fantastic,” Sly said. “This is exactly what I thought the girls were capable of doing. I think they believe in themselves too so I believe there are greater things to come.”
Service errors troubled the Lady Hubs against AFC on Tuesday, as Rochelle committed nine of them in the three-set loss. However, that wasn’t the case Thursday evening, as the Lady Hubs relied on strong serves, particularly from seniors Emma Mehrings and Grace Orlikowski (who combined for five aces), to keep Dixon off balance in the first set.
The Lady Hubs led Dixon 17-12 before keeping an even pace with the Duchesses to take the first set. Rochelle totaled only three service errors in the victory.
“Our serving was crucial tonight,” said Sly, who also said she tweaked Rochelle’s rotation for Thursday’s match. “Maggie Duval came in and did a fantastic job on the right side, and we had Emma shift over a little bit and that seemed to help. We’re looking for a lineup that can win, and we found that tonight.”
Rochelle found its rhythm in the second set and showed no signs of slowing down once the girls hit their stride. The Lady Hubs turned to junior Katie Van Hise for offense at the outside hitter position, and Van Hise continued to deliver with a team-high eight kills after leading Rochelle in kills (12) on Tuesday. The Lady Hubs began the second set on a 12-3 run.
“We were really motivated to win this match,” Van Hise said. “We wanted to come back here and start the season right. We had more energy in the second set and we were getting back to how we usually play… It’s a huge confidence boost for us. Last year didn’t go very well so we want to turn things around and get some more wins.”
Dixon took its first timeout of the second set with the Lady Hubs leading 17-5. Rochelle scored 8-of-13 points down the stretch to conclude the victory. Mehrings led the Lady Hubs with 14 digs, while senior Sarah Craven added 10 digs. Sophomore Clare Green continued quarterbacking the offense, recording her second straight 20-plus assist game with 23.
“We talked at practice yesterday about how we came out against AFC and won the first set but lost the next two,” Sly said. “I challenged them before tonight’s match and they made it a team goal to beat the other team by more points than they did in the previous set. They definitely succeeded in accomplishing their goal.”
The Rochelle sophomore volleyball team lost in two sets against Dixon on Thursday by a score of 15-25, 23-25 to drop to 1-1 on the season.