DIXON – Sterling is putting together a season of historic proportions.
The Golden Warriors added to the history making Saturday, winning the Dixon Invitational, which has been around since the 1960s, for the first time.
Sterling had to fight LaSalle-Peru tooth and nail in the title tilt to get it done. Just two days after thumping the Cavaliers, the Warriors came from behind for a 20-25, 25-20, 25-20 title match win at Lancaster Gym.
Thursday, Sterling (30-2), which is off to its best start ever, dominated the Cavs at LaSalle-Peru, 25-13, 25-11. The Warriors swept them in conference play, also winning 25-18, 21-25, 25-15 in Sterling on Sept. 11.
LaSalle-Peru is now 20-5 on the season, with three of those losses coming to the Warriors.
“We knew they’d come back with a vengeance,” said the Warriors’ Jennifer Rahn, who piled up a match-high 14 kills in the championship.
“We expected it,” Rahn said, “but we picked up our game at the end.”
“We knew we had to play our hardest to beat them, and that’s what we did,” added Sterling’s Krista Loos, who had 13 kills.
After trailing for much of the first set, Sterling only trailed for one point the rest of the way, 1-0 to start Set 3.
The Warriors bolted to a 7-2 advantage to start Set 2. Leading 13-6, Sterling saw the Cavs shave the margin to two five times, the last at 20-18.
Sterling responded to each threat, finishing with a 5-2 mini-run that included two blocks and a kill by Rahn, and kills by Peyton Cater (8 kills) and Loos.
The Warriors again started strong in Set 3, working ahead 6-2. L-P made it a one-point game twice before Sterling used a 5-0 burst to go up 13-7. Kiarra Harris (11 kills) had two kills and a block in the flurry that also included two kills from Cater.
The Cavs whittled the difference to 14-11, but the Warriors upped it to 20-12, thanks to three more kills and a block from Rahn.
L-P got within four three times down the stretch before Sterling closed things out, with Harris providing two kills and a block in the final five points.
“This is a special group of girls that are playing well,” Sterling coach Dale Dykeman said. “We’re hitting our stride at the right time.”
The Warriors advanced to the final with an emphatic 20-11, 20-14 win over Rock Falls in the semifinals. Sterling went 3-0 in the pool play, beating Amboy (20-10, 20-11), Dixon (20-18, 20-12) and Rochelle (20-15, 20-17).
Loos was thrilled to beat both L-P and Rock Falls.
“That always feels good, because those are our biggest rivals,” she said.
Rock Falls took third place, going 3-2 on the day after finishing second to L-P in its pool.
Dixon went 2-3 and Amboy 0-4.
Sterling def. LaSalle-Peru 20-25, 25-20, 25-20
Star of the match: Jennifer Rahn, Sterling, 14 kills, 4 blocks
Key performers: Krista Loos, Sterling, 13 kills, 3 aces; Jessica Suarez, L-P, 12 kills; Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 11 kills