Open season with win over Dickinson

It’s off and running time for Sterling High School volleyball.

Despite having to shake off offseason rust, the Lady Rangers got hot at the key moments, found the ability to put away pivotal points and held off visiting Dickinson 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-20) Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.

Sterling (1-0) was led by Jasmine Moore (19 kills), Bailee St. Romain (seven kills), Kaitlyn Stork (five kills), Kayla Jones (five kills, 17 digs), Alex Lee (17 assists) and Brooke Benoit (16 assists).

“I was just really excited about how they were calm whenever the game got close,” Sterling head coach Candace Southall said. “Staying focused was a big component for me. I was also able to get most of my girls into the game and see different things. The girls are super excited.

“We have a motto: Unfinished business. That’s our goal for this season to redeem ourselves from our playoffs.”

Sterling lost in the bi-district round of the playoffs last fall.

The first set was clearly the initial one of the season for both teams as neither could get into any true rhythm as each squads worked out their foibles - some born from having just started practicing Thursday.

“Also too we have had a few girls being pulled up and had only one practice with varsity,” Southall said. “It’s fresh and we are just looking at different options. Once we work on the relationships it’s going to be super solid.”

Of course some of their issues were due to the solid play on the other side of the net.

Dickinson got some late momentum to build multiple two-point leads and had one as late as 23-21.

Then Sterling buckled down and got serious scoring the final four points and took the first set on Moore’s kill.

The second set had the same teeter-totter qualities as Sterling built 8-5 and 15-10 leads thanks to solid terminal play off good balls. However, the hit or miss quality of its defense would lead to sometimes too many free balls heading back the Gators way.

Slowly, the Lady Rangers found their groove as Moore, St. Romain and the rest of the front line began to assert themselves to edge further ahead.

Then things a little nervy.

Dickinson rallied from 17-11 down and crept back into a 19-all tie as Sterling couldn’t put opportune swings away.

Sterling would not allow Dickinson to return the favor and after a tense final points Jones served out the set and the Lady Rangers led 2-0.

The deciding set saw the hosts build a 13-7 lead as they rode the wave of momentum that got them the lead they never relinquished.

This time Sterling kept its edge and despite a number of determined Dickinson efforts headed home with the win.

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