STERLING – Though it was hampered by mistakes throughout the first set, the Sterling volleyball team started the second set in style on Thursday at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Rochelle tried to set for Emma Mehrings at the right pin for the first point of the set, but Sterling’s Gretchen Gould was right there for the block. On the next point, the Hubs went to the left pin, but Gould and Josi Borum stuffed Abby Tilton.
The first seven points of the set went to Sterling, building a Warriors lead the Hubs could never erase in a 25-20, 25-9 Sterling win.
“We were just staying in system and trying to keep them out of system,” Brooklyn Borum said.
A serving error handed the Hubs their first point of the second set, but Grace Gould and Gretchen Gould responded with kills, Grace from the back row and Gretchen powering a shot through two Rochelle blockers at the net, and Sterling led 10-1.
“We adjusted well to their block,” Gretchen Gould said. “We changed some things and it helped a lot.”
The Golden Warriors (28-0, 6-0 NIB-12 West) led 15-6 before a violation at the net, a block by Clare Green, and a hitting error helped Rochelle cut the lead to 15-9, but that was the last point the Hubs scored.
Grace Gould served two aces, including on the final point, and Gretchen Gould had three kills over that 10-point run.
“We were just being really offensive, and our serving improved a lot, which helped a lot,” Gretchen Gould said.
While everything was clicking in the second set, Sterling was misfiring at times in the first set as Rochelle picked up 14 of its 20 points on Sterling errors and violations.
Sterling got aces from Lexi Rodriguez and Bree Borum in the first set, but both followed those with serves into the net.
Rochelle (13-16, 3-4 NIB-12 West) led 2-1, the only lead the Hubs would enjoy all night, with both of those points coming on Sterling miscues. Brooklyn Borum had a pair of kills and Josi Borum added two of her own to put the Warriors in front, but more mistakes kept the Warriors from building much of a lead.
It was 14-11 following a Sterling violation and a hitting error on back-to-back points before the Warriors called timeout. Out of the timeout, Sterling rattled off five of the next six points, with Bree Borum and Brooklyn Borum picking up kills and Rodriguez serving up a pair of aces.
“We just needed to get out of our heads and just know that we need to be good in this game so we were just trying to clean up our errors, minimize them,” Brooklyn Borum said.
Rochelle cut the lead back to four late in the set as Tilton picked up a kill and Sterling followed with a pair of errors, but Brooklyn Borum had two kills over the next three points, and Bree Borum responded to an Allison Seebach kill with one of her own to end the set.
“[In the first set], we were swinging hard, we got great second balls, our back row was really reading the shoulder and getting the ball up, getting touches,” Rochelle coach Molly Sly said. “Unfortunately in that second set, I don’t think our hitters were swinging as hard as they were in that first set.”
With the win, the Warriors clinch at least a share the final NIB-12 West title with two conference games to play next week against Ottawa and LaSalle-Peru.
Sterling def. Rochelle 25-20, 25-9
Star of the game: Brooklyn Borum, Sterling, 11 kills
Key performers: Gretchen Gould, Sterling, 8 kills; Lexi Rodriguez, Sterling, 14 digs, 2 aces; Bree Borum, Sterling, 19 assists; Josi Borum, Sterling, 10 assists
Up next: Sterling at Plainfield Fall Classic, Saturday