BURLINGTON — Slow starts have hurt the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity volleyball team all season. That issue came to the surface once again on Tuesday, when the fifth-seeded Lady Hubs faced the third-seeded Burlington Central Rockets to open the IHSA 3A Burlington Central Regional.
Rochelle fell behind early in both sets of the semifinal matchup, with Burlington Central building early leads and holding off late surges from the Lady Hubs to win the match 25-10, 25-18. Junior Addie Friestad and sophomore Kennedy Adamski each finished with four kills, while senior Sylvia Hasz totaled 10 assists for the Lady Hubs, who finished with a 16-16 record.
“We started off slow and that’s been our struggle all season,” head coach Molly Sly said. “I thought we were out of that funk but it came back to haunt us tonight. When we’re facing a team like Burlington Central, we can’t start slow. We have to want every point and go after every ball and I thought our nerves showed tonight. It was a disappointing loss but our season isn’t defined by one match. We had won our previous four matches before tonight.”
The Rockets dominated the early portion of the match, scoring the first seven points in the first set and forcing a Rochelle timeout. The Lady Hubs struggled to receive serves and dig balls as the set progressed, falling behind even more while Burlington Central went ahead by as many as 14 points. The Rockets started strong in the second set as well, opening with an 8-2 run.
“We looked nervous tonight and I hope the girls who are coming back next season were able to get those nerves out of their systems,” Sly said. “Hopefully we can come back next season and be in this situation knowing how to feel and how to handle the excitement and the jitters.”
Rochelle showed more fight in the second set, clawing back and bringing the Rockets within four points with Hasz pressuring the Burlington Central defense with her serves and passing. But a brief 5-0 spurt from the Rockets forced another Rochelle timeout, and while Friestad and Adamski each scored key kills down the stretch, the Lady Hubs were unable to fully recover from their early deficit. Juniors Payton Hale and Cassandra Garcia each recorded five digs.
“Sylvia getting to the service line helped us force them out of their rhythm,” Sly said. “They were giving us more free balls instead of solid swings at the net. It’s hard to play defense when we’re giving up free balls instead of forcing the other team to give us free balls.”