ROCHELLE — Returning members of the Rochelle varsity volleyball team have made a unique wager with assistant coach Lindsay Suess as the Lady Hubs tipped off the 2019 season with practices this past week.
The Lady Hubs performed admirably during the 2018 campaign, winning 16 matches including an enormous upset over IHSA Sectional finalist LaSalle-Peru on their home floor. Under first-year head coach Molly Sly, Rochelle reached the IHSA Regional Finals for the first time since 2012. If this year’s group advances beyond regionals, the girls will have an exciting opportunity.
“Our goal is to get to sectionals because if we do, we get to name our coach’s baby,” senior Allison Seebach said. “I love my teammates and I always have a good time playing with them. Most of the seniors last year were really good leaders and they helped me learn how to lead a team and be a good role model. Now we can show the juniors how to step up.”
Rochelle opens the 2019 season with tournament play at Rockford East on Aug. 24 before hosting Ashton-Frankin Center for its first home game on Aug. 27. The Lady Hubs will make their Interstate Eight Conference debut against Sandwich on Sept. 10. Despite losing All-Conference hitter Emma Mehrings, Rochelle returns several frontline players including Seebach and senior Katie Van Hise, who finished second on the team in kills with 192 this past year.
“I enjoy meeting the new freshmen,” Van Hise said. “I’ve known most of my teammates since kindergarten so it’s nice to be back with them again. Our seniors were good leaders this past year and they never gave up, so I want to be like them. We really came together well last year and I hope we can continue to do that this year. I’m excited to be in the new conference.”
Junior Clare Green returns to the setter position after earning All-Conference recognition this past season. Seniors Maggie Duval and Emma Smith are primed for playing time up front, while sophomore Sylvia Hasz could factor into the rotation as well. Senior Caitlin Hensley headlines a back row that will need some new faces to step into starting roles after the departures of Sarah Craven, Emily Engelkes and Kelsey Thompson.
“I always have a great time with my teammates and we’re really great friends,” Duval said. “I learned so much from the work ethic of our seniors last year. They were always encouraging us and helping us get better. I want to help my teammates share the passion for volleyball that I have. We have a lot of good hitters this season, and we’re working on some new plays to get all of our hitters involved.”