ROCKFORD — An odd start to the morning set the Rochelle volleyball team back during the E-Rab Invitational at Rockford East on Saturday. The Lady Hubs bounced back from their opening loss, however, rallying off four straight victories to place third in the tournament and improve their overall record to 5-2 on the season.
With schedule changes causing some confusion in the morning, Rochelle ultimately waited about 20 minutes before taking the floor against Woodstock in the opener, falling by a score of 9-25, 10-25. The Lady Hubs were without senior middle blocker Allison Seebach, but head coach Molly Sly credited junior Afi Gati with strong play at the position in Seebach’s absence.
“It was definitely a slow start for us,” Sly said. “Nothing was going our way. Our passes, our sets and our hits were all shaky… Afi stepped up and took on the middle blocker role. She did a great job, and the girls did a good job of not letting Allison’s absence be an excuse for dropping off a couple of matches.”
Rochelle rebounded quickly in the team’s second set, defeating Freeport in straight sets (25-17, 25-15) before holding off Rockford East to win in two sets (25-15, 28-26). Senior Katie Van Hise led the Lady Hubs with 11 kills against Freeport, while junior Clare Green added 16 assists and junior Ellie Kinn totaled six digs. Green was an all-around performer against Rockford East, recording five kills, 12 assists and six digs.
“Clare always plays solid volleyball for us,” Sly said. “Clare and Maggie [Duval] each had at least five kills in a few of our matches which is nice to have from our right side. Emma [Smith] put up some great blocks and she had great touches throughout the day. Katie and Sylvia [Hasz] were very consistent on the outside.”
Rochelle continued its winning ways soon after, topping Rockford Christian by a score of 25-9, 28-27 to finish second in its group and qualify for the third-place match against Marengo. The Lady Hubs capped the tournament off with a victory, beating the Indians 25-16, 25-19 behind 10 kills from Van Hise, nine digs from Duval and 11 assists from Green. Van Hise led Rochelle with nine kills against Rockford Christian, while Duval added 11 assists and Kinn totaled five digs.
“Our passing was a lot better throughout the day and we were getting better touches on the ball than we were in the first match,” Sly said. “That helped our passers, and our hitters were putting the ball away. When we’re doing that, we’re hard to defend against.”