Volleyball: Lady Hubs returning several senior players

Senior Cassandra Garcia is one of several varsity players back for the Rochelle Lady Hub volleyball team this season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Interstate 8 honorees Friestad, Hale headline varsity starters back this fall

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Lady Hub volleyball team tipped off the 2022 season with its first practice Monday afternoon. With only two seniors gone from last season’s roster, head coach Molly Sly is both excited and optimistic about the experience and talent on this year’s roster.

“Our numbers are up for this season which is awesome,” Sly said. “We have a lot of girls fighting for spots right now and they’re pushing each other to be better. I think these girls have great chemistry and they respect each other. That’s been exciting to see during the offseason and they have a competitive spirit. I’m excited that we’ll have five seniors competing for spots this season and we have a handful of sophomores and juniors who will be fighting for spots as well.”

Rochelle will face Ashton-Franklin Center on the road Tuesday, Aug. 23 for the team’s first nonconference match of the season. The Lady Hubs will host Dixon for their home opener on Thursday, Aug. 25 and begin the Interstate 8 Conference schedule at home against Plano on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Rochelle will look for its returning seniors on the front line to fill the shoes that were left by three-time MVP and three-time All-Conference First Team honoree Sylvia Hasz.

“I would love to see our girls finish either first or second in the conference and reach the regional championship match this season,” Sly said. “I think the team we have this season is excellent and I don’t think there’s any reason why our girls can’t accomplish those goals.”

The Lady Hubs feature plenty of depth in the front row, with seniors Addie Friestad and Payton Hale both entering their third varsity seasons while junior Kennedy Adamski and sophomore Taelynn Rodeghero are entering their second varsity seasons. Senior Isela Vasquez and sophomore Alison Ohlinger are expected to command the offense from the setter position, while a crew of returning varsity players including seniors Macy Ramos, Cassandra Garcia and sophomore Dempsey Atkinson are back to anchor the defense from the back-row positions.

“I’m excited to see what Kennedy can do this season,” Sly said. “She can definitely become a leader for us and Payton has been a leader over the last two seasons. We have two strong outside hitters in Addie and Taelynn who will put the ball away quite a bit. Macy has a great serve-receive and she’s very consistent in the back row. Dempsey’s a really hard worker and she gives great effort for those tough-to-reach balls. Cass moves well laterally and gets the ball up well to our setters Isela and Ali, who run a quick offense and give us good second touches.”