ROCK FALLS – Speed has been on the mind of the Rock Falls volleyball team lately, but not necessarily in the fashion of moving faster.
Quickness in the form of dependability and spreading out excellent play among many different players at the net has led to evenly-distributed stats and three straight wins for the Rockets, who dispatched previously unbeaten Rockford Lutheran 25-17, 25-15 on Tuesday night at Tabor Gymnasium.
Six different Rockets recorded a kill, led by junior Elise Moeller’s nine, freshman Maya Sands’ six, and senior Kenzie Olson’s four.
“Our last three or four games, we’ve come out with just a little more intensity,” Rockets coach Sheila Mammosser said. “We’re getting a lot of people involved in the offense, and that starts with passing. We’ve really put our game together a little bit, and hope that we can just keep tweaking and tweaking, and keep improving on the things that we need to, and keep doing things that we are doing well.”
Rockets junior Emalie Chavira dished out a team-high 10 assists, most in Moeller’s direction. Classmate Audra Goff added five more.
“If we want to win games, we have to make it a faster-
pace game,” Goff said.
“By setting those sets, it will help.
“It all starts with the pass. It’s my job to make it better, and it just clicked. It’s been clicking, and it’s contributed to a lot of our wins.”
Rock Falls (9-2, 2-0 Big Northern) led 12-7 at one point in the first set, before Lutheran (10-1, 0-1) inched back to within one at 12-11.
Vanessa Romo put the Rockets up by two with a kill from the middle of the court, and a Crusaders illegal block upped the lead to three.
Sands increased the Rockets’ lead to 15-11 with a thunderous block of Katie Spangler’s left-corner spike; the ball arched all of the way across and over the Crusaders’ side of the court, and landed just inbounds for the successful stop.
“I had no clue where that block went,” Sands said. “I was looking around everywhere, [then] everyone was cheering.
“Once we started blocking, we started getting momentum.”
The Rockets’ lead grew from there. They hit 20 points on Romo’s block of Rylee Kennington, and 21 on a combo block from Romo and Maddie Sands against Spangler.
Moeller had a series of kills to break open the second set from a tie at 8. The closest Lutheran came to the Rockets’ lead was at 16-12, but Rock Falls reeled off six straight points starting with a Kenzie Olson block, and highlighted with a Maddie Sands ace among a slew of Crusaders hitting errors.
“We really had to communicate and get our passes up, and then it would get our offense running,” Maya Sands said. “That got us a bunch of kills.”
Spangler led Lutheran with nine kills. First-year Crusaders coach Jordan Haverly, a standout at Indiana and Keith Country Day, came away “pleasantly surprised” with the Rockets’ play, despite it being her team’s first match in 10 days.
“Rock Falls has some really good players, and they were in system a lot,” Haverly said. “They were just super scrappy on defense, and really didn’t let anything fall. They showed up, and we just didn’t. They should be really good the rest of the year.”
The Rockets’ defense was balanced also; Maddie Sands led with nine digs, Maya Sands and libero Madison Arickx each scooped up seven, and Moeller added six.
“They’re always a very well-coached team,” Mammosser said. “They have a new coach this year, and she has a lot of experience. They’re young, but they have some nice hitters and tall blockers, and I just thought we took care of business.”
“It feels really good to know that we could pull out a win,” Goff added. “Everything went our way.”
Rock Falls def. Lutheran 25-17, 25-15
Star of the match: Elise Moeller, Rock Falls, 8 kills, 6 digs
Key performers: Lauren Spangler, Lutheran, 9 kills; Maya Sands, Rock Falls, 7 digs, 6 kills; Maddie Sands, Rock Falls, 9 digs; Ava Irvin, Lutheran, 5 kills, block
Up next: Rock Falls at North Boone, 6 p.m. Tuesday