ROCK FALLS – When the Sterling Golden Warriors get their offense humming, there’s little any defense can do to stop it.
The Rock Falls Rockets found that out the hard way Tuesday night at Tabor Gym.
Sterling amassed 28 kills between five different players in a relentless offensive onslaught, and the Warriors took the Rock Falls crowd out of the game from the get-go in a 25-11, 25-18 rivalry victory.
“We struggled for a while coming into this match, but it all came together tonight,” Sterling junior Josi Borum said. “We were so amped up. All our hitters did great, just hit the ball so hard and never let up. It was great to get such a fast start; their crowd got quiet after we got the lead, and we just kept it going from there.”
The Golden Warriors (14-1) led 6-0 before the Rockets (8-3) knew what hit them. Josi Borum, Breelyn Borum and Macie Good all had kills in the opening salvo, and it set the tone for the rest of the match.
Kills by Good and Josi Borum and an ace by Katelyn Smoot made it 9-1, then three kills from Brooklyn Borum in a four-point span pushed the margin to 13-4. Breelyn Borum ripped her second kill, then set up Gretchen Gould for a kill, then Good smacked a kill to start another Sterling run for a 19-8 lead.
The Warriors closed out the first set with a Josi Borum ace, a Brooklyn Borum kill, and a Good kill off an overpass, before Good and Brooklyn Borum added kills to finish it off.
“We really wanted it tonight. We pumped ourselves up so much, and we got such a hot start, and kept it going,” Good said. “We didn’t let up tonight, which is a really good sign. Usually when you get up so quick like that, you let up, but we weren’t going to let that happen tonight. We wanted to play a good match from start to finish, play aggressive and hit the ball as hard we could.”
That attitude carried over to the second set. A kill and a block by Josi Burm made it 5-1, then Rock Falls’ Kenzie Olson, Good and RF’s Vanessa Romo traded kills for a 6-4 Sterling edge. Hitting errors by Sterling around a Breelyn Borum kill made it 9-6, and then the Warriors started to pull away.
Back-to-back Rocket hitting errors forced coach Sheila Mammosser to call timeout, then Sterling got kills from Gould and Josi Borum out of the break that built Sterling’s lead to 14-6. An Elise Moeller kill sparked a Rock Falls mini-run, but Josi Borum kills bookended a 5-0 run that included a Smoot ace and a Good kill for a 20-10 lead.
After four Sterling errors in a five-point stretch brought the Rockets within 21-14, Brookyln and Breelyn Borum had back-to-back kills and the Warriors reached match point on a Rocket hitting error.
Rock Falls fought off four match points with a Romo kill, an Moeller block, a Romo ace and a Moeller kill, but Sterling finally got the final point when Josi Borum set it to younger sister Brooklyn Borum for one last kill.
“You can’t let a front row like that have a heyday like that,” Mammosser said. “Defense has been our bread and butter here for 20 years, and we had none of it tonight; when we don’t get a block up, our back row has no chance. They exploited everything we couldn’t do – which was pass, set or hit – and they hit it hard.”
Josi Borum had eight kills and eight assists, while Good and Brooklyn Borum each added seven kills for the Warriors, who had almost twice as many kills (28) as errors of any kind (15). Breelyn Borum finished with 13 assists, eight digs, seven points and four kills, Brookyln Borum added seven digs, and Smoot served for 10 points and two aces. Lexi Rodriguez chipped in 16 digs.
“There are so many options, it’s good knowing that wherever I set it up, it will get hit hard and in-bounds,” Breelyn Borum said. “Since they’re our rivals, we were more excited for this game, and we got it all going. All I had to do tonight was get the sets to the hitters, just get it up and let them hit it hard.”
Romo led the Rockets with five kills, Moeller added four kills and a block, and Aubri Heald had eight digs. Payton Yanes dished five assists and Faith Sandrock set four, but Rock Falls struggled to get passes to the setters to get into their offense and was out of sync for most of the night.
“I was disappointed that we weren’t mentally prepared to play,” Mammosser said. “We watched them play the game, and couldn’t do anything about it. We were out of system the whole night, and we couldn’t get any good passes to even get a set up to our hitters.
“I thought Gracie Janssen gave us a nice spark off the bench, and Vanessa Romo was swatting the ball well; she’s capable of that, and if she can get her confidence up and keep swinging, that’s good for us. But we’ve got to be better.”
Sterling def. Rock Falls 25-11, 25-18
Star of the match: Josi Borum, Sterling, 8 kills, 8 assists, 1 block, 1 ace
Key performers: Brooklyn Borum, Sterling, 7 kills, 7 digs, 5 points; Macie Good, Sterling, 7 kills; Breelyn Borum, Sterling, 13 assists, 8 digs, 4 kills, 7 points; Vanessa Romo, RF, 5 kills; Elise Moeller, RF, 4 kills, 1 block
Up next: Sterling at Geneseo, 6 p.m. Thursday; Rock Falls at Belvidere North Invite, 9 a.m. Saturday