ROCHELLE — The Lady Hub varsity volleyball team had the exact start it was looking for Thursday evening, when Rochelle honored its seven seniors and hosted the Plano Reapers for its Interstate 8 Conference finale and the last match of the shortened spring season.
Scoring eight consecutive points to open the match, Rochelle dominated the first set, with Plano showing minimal resistance as the Lady Hubs grew their lead to over a dozen. But the strong start and the Senior Night emotions were short-lived, as the Reapers recovered to take each of the last two sets and hand Rochelle a 25-9, 20-25, 22-25 loss. Senior Clare Green totaled 19 assists, surpassing 1,400 assists in her career for the Lady Hubs (7-10).
“The seniors gave our sophomores and juniors a lot to look up to and our girls will have some big shoes to fill,” head coach Molly Sly said. “Clare reaching 1,400 assists, even with a shortened career, was absolutely fantastic. I think we made the most of the season. Our seniors came to practice every day with smiles on their faces and they’re definitely going to be missed.”
Everything went Rochelle’s way early in the match. With Green on the serve, the Lady Hubs began the night on an 11-0 run before Plano recorded its first point. The Reapers were forced to call two timeouts in the first set, with the second coming after a block from Rochelle senior Bella Lodico that made the score 15-1 Lady Hubs. The 16-point margin of victory in the opening set was the largest scoring difference of any set for Rochelle’s varsity team this season.
“We had a fire and we didn’t want the ball to drop,” Sly said. “We went after every ball and we really wanted to win. We wanted every single point and we almost did that in the first set.”
Plano began turning the tide in the second set, opening with a 10-7 advantage behind outside hitter Anna Gonzalez, who created problems for the Lady Hubs in Rochelle’s first encounter with the Reapers this season. Despite another strong outing from junior Sylvia Hasz, who had 17 kills for the Lady Hubs, Rochelle was unable to muster up consistent offense across the front line. Plano built its lead to as many as five points before splitting the final 10 points of the set.
The Reapers carried momentum into the third set, breaking off a 10-5 run before Rochelle responded with a brief rally of its own, inching within one point of Plano, 12-11. The Lady Hubs briefly took the lead after a tremendous net effort from senior Afi Gati, who blocked three consecutive Plano shots to score and give Rochelle an 18-17 advantage late in the set.
But the Lady Hubs couldn’t close out the win on Senior Night, with Plano stringing together an 8-4 run as Rochelle struggled with serve receives and first touches on defense in the end. Senior Alexis Sanford led the Lady Hubs with eight digs, while senior Ellie Kinn had six digs.