STERLING – The Golden Warriors are not wallflowers.
Down 24-22 in both games of the championship match, Sterling had its proverbial back against the wall. The Warriors overcame, eking out a 26-24, 30-28 win over Sycamore to win the 16-team Sterling Invitational on Saturday at Westwood Sports Complex.
In Set 1, Sterling trailed 21-17 and then 24-22 before Jennifer Rahn came to the rescue with two kills and a block in a 4-0 flurry to pull out the win. Rahn piled up eight kills and three blocks in the opener. In the match, she had a team-high 13 kills and six blocks.
“Things needed to be done, so I went out and did it and looked to my teammates for help,” Rahn said. “Our defense was awesome. We were very scrappy. That’s improving, and it’s going to keep getting better.”
The second set again found the Warriors down 24-22. Sterling fought off two set points and finished another comeback on their fourth set point on the second straight hitting error by the Spartans (9-6).
Krista Loos had two kills down the stretch, with Peyton Cater, Kiarra Harris and Caitlin Liston also supplying kills in the final moments. Loos had 10 kills in the match, and Harris six.
“Under pressure, it’s good to pull out a win when we’re down,” Loos said. “It’s a good quality of a team to be able to come back. We didn’t put our heads down. We’ve done a lot of team bonding things, and we’re one team now.”
In pool play, Sterling rolled through Hall (20-15, 20-5), Pecatonica (20-11, 20-9) and Wethersfield (20-3, 20-13).
In the semifinals, the Warriors edged defending Class 1A state champion Dakota 20-16, 15-20, 16-14.
“Today showed me what we’ve been trying to do, which is work hard and get one point at a time,” Sterling coach Dale Dykeman said. “I’m very proud of the girls to show the focus that they had. They’ve got big [homecoming] plans tonight, but they were able to focus on the task at hand.”
Sycamore topped Metamora in the other semifinal. Metamora bested Dakota for third place.
In the Silver Division, for teams that finished second in their pools, Newman finished second and Morrison fourth.
Milledgeville won the Bronze Division, defeating Dixon in that final.
Star of the match: Jennifer Rahn, Sterling, team-highs of 13 kills and 6 blocks
Key performers: Krista Loos, Sterling, 10 kills; Emily Young, Sycamore, team-high 8 kills; Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 6 kills
Up next: Rochelle at Sterling, 6 p.m. Tuesday