Volleyball: Lady Hubs score 17 wins during 2023 season

Junior Dempsey Atkinson will be one of several starters eligible to return for the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity volleyball team next year. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Adamski, Henkel headline senior players set to depart from varsity roster

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Lady Hub varsity volleyball team has returned to its winning ways, recording its second consecutive winning season under head coach Molly Sly. With only two senior starters departing from the 2023 roster and several players eligible to return next fall, Sly and the Lady Hubs will enter the offseason with their eyes on continued success in the future.

Rochelle finished with a 17-16 overall record and a 3-7 record in the Interstate 8 Conference this season. The Lady Hubs performed well in tournament action, finishing second at the Rockford Jefferson Invitational while taking fourth in the Lady Hub Invitational and placing third at the Sterling Invitational. Rochelle’s season ended in the IHSA 3A LaSalle-Peru Regional.

“I had high hopes to run a 6-2 formation this season, but we didn’t wind up using that lineup,” Sly said. “We had Ali [Ohlinger] record her 1,000th career assist, which was awesome to see, and we also saw Taelynn [Rodeghero] start the season with a 20-plus kill match against Dixon. They were our go-to players this season and I thought Emma [Kennay] really shined throughout the season with her work ethic. Dempsey [Atkinson] was all over the place in our back row.”

Rochelle took both of its Interstate 8 matches against Ottawa and split a home-and-home series against Morris. The Lady Hubs, who will lose four seniors from the 2023 roster including starting middle blocker Kennedy Adamski (94 kills and 18 blocks) and right side Alivia Henkel (95 kills, 142 digs, 24 aces and 10 blocks), secured nonconference wins over several programs including Belvidere, Woodstock, Oregon, Sandwich, Fulton, Rockford Lutheran and Sterling Newman.

“We’re definitely going to miss our seniors,” Sly said. “Kennedy’s been our middle for the last three years and she’s been someone we can really depend on. She knew where her hitters were and she always had nice touches on the block. Alivia worked really hard to earn her six rotations this season and I wasn’t sure where she would fit in, but she earned her role and she was a game-changer for our team, especially late in the season. She dug up a lot of balls.”

The Lady Hubs will have multiple starters including junior hitters Taelynn Rodeghero (265 kills, 88 digs, 21 aces and 10 blocks) and Lauren Dyer (94 kills and 10 aces) along with junior libero Dempsey Atkinson (256 digs and 36 aces). Junior setter Ali Ohlinger (474 assists, 81 kills, 135 digs, 53 aces and 31 blocks) and junior defender Emma Kennay (95 digs and 15 aces) along with sophomore reserves Jaydin Dickey and Meredith Bruns are also eligible to return.

“There are some big shoes to fill with the two starters who are leaving,” Sly said. “We’re excited to see who fills those shoes. Jaydin and Meredith handled the varsity experience well and we looked to Ali, Taelynn and Dempsey to lead our team this year. We’re looking to them again next year and I’m hoping they come back with the excitement they’ll need to lead our team.”