METAMORA – With rival La Salle-
Peru on the other side of the net, the Sterling volleyball team knew its next step toward defending its Class 3A state title would be a tough one.
The Golden Warriors weathered a solid effort by the Lady Cavaliers in the first set, then took control early in the second set en route to a 25-21, 25-19 victory in the Class 3A Metamora Sectional championship Wednesday.
“We knew coming into this that L-P was going to challenge us,” Sterling coach Dale Dykeman said. “Coach [Mark] Haberkorn always comes up with some great things once he sees film. It was about coming out the first 10 points and trying to see what they were going to throw at us, then just staying efficient in the offense that we wanted to run.
“It worked out. The girls played pretty well, pretty clean and pretty fast.”
Sterling (33-6) advances to play Belvidere North (35-3) in the Class 3A La Salle-Peru Super-Sectional at 6 p.m. Friday. The Blue Thunder advanced with a win over Crystal Lake Central.
“It’s really great,” Sterling junior Brook Borum said about winning another sectional title. “It’s one step closer to where we want to be at the end of the season, which is state. I think we’re really at our highest peak right now. Everything is going good for us right now.”
The Golden Warriors beat Belvidere North 25-15, 25-22 on October 16.
“It’s going to be knock-down, drag-out,” Dykeman aid. “We’ve seen Belvidere North. They’re big and they’re physical at the net. It’s going to have to be our defense against their hitters. We have to try to find some seams and some things in their blocking.”
The first set Wednesday was also knock-down, drag-out, as it was tied 10 times and neither team led by more than five points.
The Lady Cavs (33-4) seemed poised to grab momentum up 10-7 when a shot by Grace Egan sailed long.
However, the official ruled the ball was tipped by L-P and awarded a point to the Golden Warriors.
An L-P hit on the next volley was called out to pull Sterling within one before a kill by Brook Borum tied the set.
“We could have been up 11-7 and [Dykeman] was calling timeout,” Haberkorn said. “All of a sudden it’s 10-8 then there’s another tough call. Volleyball is a momentum game, and they got some momentum from those calls. I think that changed the whole atmosphere of the first set, but it didn’t bother our mindset. We were still ready to compete.”
Sterling took the lead for good at 15-14 on a kill by Brook Borum before she closed out the first set with a tip for her 10th kill.
The Golden Warriors made a slight adjustment entering the second set and built an early 7-3 lead.
“They were touching us on the pins extremely well, so we just wanted to push the ball to the pins with a little more tempo to stretch the middles and maybe try to find a seam,” Dykeman said. “That was really the only adjustment we made.”
Sterling maintained a lead of at least three points the rest of the way, and led by as many as nine.
“We knew they weren’t just going to lay down and let us win,” Brook Borum said. “We knew they were going to fight hard, so we had to shut them down at the beginning.”