OTTAWA — There were moments during Tuesday’s varsity volleyball match against Ottawa where the Lady Hubs could’ve given in. But Rochelle refused to back down, closing out two tough games to earn their first conference victory of the season by a score of 25-20, 25-23.
Senior Emma Mehrings and junior Katie Van Hise combined for 15 kills in the win, while senior Sarah Craven recorded 13 digs to lead the Rochelle defense. Sophomore Clare Green totaled 19 assists and senior Emily Engelkes had four aces.
“Watching our girls before the match, I felt their confidence and their drive,” head coach Molly Sly said. “They wanted this match and their resiliency showed. They were able to keep their leads and they didn’t let Ottawa come back. That was great to see.”
Rochelle began the first game on a 13-7 run before Ottawa rallied to cut the Lady Hub lead to 18-16. Junior Maggie Duval, who totaled four kills in the match, earned a critical dig that saved Rochelle’s final point in the first game. Duval dove to the ground with one hand, knocking the ball into the air before Mehrings bumped the ball into Ottawa’s back corner.
Senior Grace Orlikowski (three digs, two kills) earned an ace to give Rochelle an 8-7 lead in the second game before Ottawa tied the game 12-12. Kills from Duval and Van Hise helped the Lady Hubs emerge leading 21-16, but the Pirates fought back with a 6-1 to tie the game again at 22-22. Up 24-23, Rochelle won the match when an Ottawa block landed just inches outside of the boundary line.
“Our seniors are leading the way and our juniors and our sophomore are following in their footsteps,” Sly said. “When our younger girls see the seniors leading, they take those steps in the same direction. We have the whole team working for one goal, and we’re seeing the benefits of that.”
Rochelle has gone 6-2-1 over its last nine matches, and the Lady Hubs (9-6-1 overall, 1-0 NIB-12 West) have now won more matches this year than in 2017 (seven) and 2016 (eight). Rochelle will continue conference play with a home match against LaSalle-Peru on Thursday at 6 p.m.