BY DOUG OLESON
ROCHELLE — It was the niftiest play of the night.
The Rochelle Township High School girls’ varsity volleyball team was leading LaSalle-Peru 15-10 during the second set of its match Thursday night. RTHS junior Clare Green was at the net, poised to set up teammate Katie Van Hise when – without warning – she deftly tipped the ball over the net with her right hand, landing in bounds and out of reach of all opponents.
“Coach told me to do that to mess up the other team and throw them off,” explained Green, who had 15 assists. “It’s not something you can really practice. It’s just in the game at the moment.”
The Lady Hubs, who not only led but dominated throughout the match, did a lot to keep the Lady Cavaliers off balance as Rochelle (12-7) handed the visitors their first loss of the season, 25-21, 25-20.
“That’s the way we are,” head coach Molly Sly said. “When we’re good, we’re good. Every girl who hit the floor came out to play. We read the ball and we got after it. We were fun to watch.”
All the Rochelle players agreed.
“I thought we played really well,” senior Maggie Duval said. “We played together and that’s what made us successful. We had really good passes.”
“After our loss on Tuesday (to Kaneland), we have the determination to push to point 25,” senior Emma Smith added.
“Even when we messed up, we got up and we were ready to get the next point,” said Ellie Kinn, who had seven digs.
Adding to the Rochelle attack was Van Hise with seven kills, one more than Sylvia Hasz.
LP had a late spurt in the second game and cut the deficit to just one, 18-17, but Rochelle squelched the rally to keep the Lady Cavaliers at bay.
“We didn’t give up,” Smith said, adding that the Hubs managed to control the game.
Perhaps the most odd moment of the night came a few moments after Green’s tip when LaSalle senior Brooke Shirley returned a volley that went straight up into the rafters, knocking down an air duct cover, which crashed down among the Lady Cavaliers without hitting anyone.
“My initial reaction was I thought it was going to fall on someone,” Kinn said. “But then I was ready to play.”
“I was terrified,” Smith said. “If it had fallen on someone, it would have been really bad.”
Although she didn’t want anyone to get hurt, Coach Sly had a more practical approach to the incident.
“I was afraid it was going to take our momentum away,” she said, pointing out that LP scored three straight points after that.
But their little rally didn’t last as the Lady Hubs pulled out the win.
“We really worked hard in practice this week to finish the game and I think it showed tonight,” Green said.
The RTHS sophomore squad fell 25-11, 25-20.