DIXON — Lady Hub senior Emma Smith let out an emphatic roar on the court after blocking a critical Dixon shot and extending Thursday’s match between the Rochelle volleyball team and the Duchesses to three sets.
Both teams recorded the same number of points over the first two sets, setting up a winner-take-all third set that saw the Lady Hubs and Duchesses splitting points on nearly every service ball. Rochelle held a slim lead to start the tiebreaker, but a brief mid-set rally from Dixon was all the Duchesses needed, as the Lady Hubs fell by a final score of 22-25, 25-22, 23-25. Rochelle fell to 1-1 overall with the loss.
“Dixon is really fun to play against,” head coach Molly Sly said. “They’re really scrappy and it makes me want us to be a little scrappier. I told the girls after the match that when we don’t have the momentum, don’t play like they have the momentum. Our back row passed the ball really well and our front row put the ball down well. It was too bad they couldn’t get the win.”
The Duchesses tipped off the match with a 12-7 run that forced Rochelle to call its first timeout of the evening. The Lady Hubs remained within striking distance throughout the opening set, but crucial service errors allowed Dixon to retain its lead. Despite a series of late-set kill shots from senior Katie Van Hise, who totaled eight in the match, the Duchesses changed courts with a 1-0 match advantage. Rochelle finished with 11 service errors on Thursday.
“We can’t miss that many serves and expect to win a close match,” Sly said. “That’s the bottom line and we have to keep our serves in whenever the match is close.”
Dixon again took an early lead to start the second set, but a key service rally from junior Ellie Kinn, who led Rochelle with seven digs and three aces, netted the Lady Hubs their first lead of the match at 18-17. Rochelle closed the second set on an 7-5 run that featured strong plays from sophomore Sylvia Hasz, who had a team-high 10 kills, and Smith’s set-sealing block.
“Emma has really stepped up and she gave us a huge block in the second set,” Sly said. “She made a lot of great hits so far and we need to get her a little more comfortable. I think she’ll be a huge part of our success this season.”
Behind setters Clare Green (20 assists) and Maggie Duval (17 assists), the Lady Hubs opened the third set with a 10-9 lead before Dixon rallied for a 9-4 run and flip the script on Rochelle. Both teams alternated points for most of the remaining balls in the set, with the Duchesses blocking one final shot up 24-23 to seal their win.