Rockets looking to end sectional semifinal jinx

Rock Falls digging field

Rock Falls coach Sheila Mammosser has been around long enough to know not to look too far ahead in the volleyball postseason. 

After all, the Rockets have won regional titles the last 2 years, only to fall in the sectional semifinal.

But there's no denying this could be one of the Rockets' best chances to advance to the supersectional in Class 3A. 

Rock Falls (27-10) plays today at 7 p.m. against LaSalle-Peru (29-7) at the 3A Mendota Sectional. 

"It won't be easy, and we know that," Mammosser said. "But, if we play how we did against Sterling on Thursday, we know that we'll have a very good chance to advance. 

"We've been to the sectional the last couple years and have been knocked out in the first game each time. I really want for these seniors to take that next step." 

Standing in the way will be the Cavaliers, who beat the Rockets 20-17, 22-20 at the Dixon Invitational on Oct. 6. 

Much like Sterling, who the Rockets beat to win the Sterling Regional, the Cavs depend upon a tall front line to make their offense and defense go. 

"They have tall girls across the front they use to set up the block," Rock Falls senior Jordan Giddings said. "We have to be aggressive just like we were against Sterling." 

"The first time we played it was close in each game until they made a few plays at the end," Mammosser said. "They use their blockers to take away angles and force you to hit right at their back row. It's a lot like Sterling in that regard." 

The Rockets started slow this season, but have settled on a lineup that has been producing. 

They sealed up a Big Northern West title with strong play and that carried over into the regional. 

"I just think that with it being the postseason, it has forced us to step up our play," Giddings said. "We know that we only have one shot left to do this. It would mean a lot to us as seniors to get past that first sectional game and go from there."

The Rock Falls-LaSalle-Peru matchup seems to pit the two top teams at the sectional. Dunlap is 18-14. Freeport (11-20) barely edged Rochelle to win the 3A Freeport Regional. The Pretzels dropped the first set to Rochelle and had to rally in the second to win 26-24. 

Rock Falls vs. LaSalle-Peru

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Mendota High School

Twitter: Follow Larry Brennan (@LarryBrennan) for live updates from Mendota