ROCHELLE — Sterling entered Tuesday’s varsity volleyball match against Rochelle as not only an unbeaten team sitting atop the Northern Illinois Big 12 West standings, but a top-5 team in the state according to MaxPreps.
Carrying their 16-0 record into Rochelle Township High School, the Golden Warriors started strong in both games and proved too strong for the Lady Hubs, who fell 13-25, 15-25 and lost their five-match winning streak. Rochelle (10-7-1, 2-1 NIB-12 West) will look to bounce back against Geneseo on the road Thursday at 6 p.m.
“Our message to the girls before the match was for them to read and react to every situation regardless of what was going on,” head coach Molly Sly said. “Sterling can hit the ball down the line, across the court and they tip the ball well. I think the girls reacted to the ball really well, but there are a couple of things we took away from the match that we need to work on.”
The Lady Hubs hung with Sterling early in the first game, trailing 5-4 before the Golden Warriors rallied off eight consecutive points to force a Rochelle timeout. Sterling took advantage of some receiving errors by the Lady Hubs early in the match, and free balls allowed the Golden Warriors to fire on all cylinders offensively.
Rochelle made a brief 5-4 run to cut Sterling’s lead to 17-9 before the Golden Warriors went on an 8-4 run to seal the first game.
“Our middles need to be a little quicker up front and our sets need to be quicker,” Sly said. “We need to play the ball a little better on the other side. We need to swing with our bodies and not just our arms, and we need to make sure it’s a team effort and that our back row is always talking with our front row.”
Rochelle hung in a little longer in the second game with a few brief runs, but Sterling ultimately was too tough on Tuesday. Senior Emma Mehrings led Rochelle with seven kills while junior Katie Van Hise added five kills. Sophomore Clare Green totaled 12 assists, and senior Sarah Craven headlined the back row with 15 digs.
The Rochelle sophomore volleyball team lost 26-28, 10-25 to Sterling on Tuesday to drop to 5-7 overall. Freshman Sylvia Hasz totaled five kills and four aces while sophomore Alexis Sanford added three kills.