ROCHELLE — While Rochelle Township High School’s winter sports programs begin ramping up activities to prepare for the upcoming season, spring sports including the Lady Hub volleyball program are returning for offseason contact days to gear up for the warmer months.
After over two months removed from any athletic activities due to COVID-19 mitigations, Rochelle resumed its open-gym volleyball workouts for the first time since fall contact days expired in late October. The Lady Hubs will hold open gyms every Wednesday and Sunday from 7-8 p.m. to prepare for the upcoming season, which will run from March 8 through April 24.
“I’m more excited now than I was before because we have a definitive start date that won’t change,” head coach Molly Sly said. “We knew the start date of our season was up in the air for a while but I’m excited that we have an exact date for our season because we can start preparing for that time and we can be ready to hit the ground running when that time arrives.”
Volleyball teams must hold seven practice days before beginning competitions, meaning Rochelle could begin matches as soon as March 15. Under the revised IDPH All Sports Policy, volleyball remains a medium-risk sport, meaning regions under Phase 4 mitigations can compete under Level 3 guidance, which permits conference and intraregional competition. Additionally, all players and non-participants must wear masks during practices and games.
“We’re scheduled to work out two days a week right now, but my hope is that we can start working out at least three days a week,” Sly said. “We’re considering these workouts as open gyms right now, but our plan will be to have true contact days as we move closer to the start of the season. Because we didn’t have camp over the summer and we only had limited contact days during the fall, we’re focusing on our defensive skills and playing at a varsity pace.”
The Lady Hubs will return several seniors to the varsity team this spring including four-year setter Clare Green as well as back-row players Alexis Sanford, Jesenia Solano, Ellie Kinn, middle blocker Afi Gati and newcomer Bella Lodico. Juniors Zoey Tabor and Sylvia Hasz, who earned the team’s Most Valuable Player honor this past season, are also expected to return. While there will be no state series this season, Rochelle’s varsity team is keeping its expectations up.
“We’re still setting high goals for ourselves,” Sly said. “We always have a preseason goal and a postseason goal, whether that’s wins or other goals the girls come up with. We want to win every time we step on the floor.”