A service error on Lauren Carlini's first serve Monday gave Geneva a point in the Vikings' season-opening match at West Aurora.
Turns out winning that point was about the worst thing that could have happened to Geneva.
The next time Carlini stepped to the service line with her team in a tight 15-14 opening game, she didn't stop serving until the game was over.
The Wisconsin-bound Carlini jump-served 10 straight points using a tremendous display of power and placement. West Aurora won 7 of the 10 points on her aces, and she assisted on two other points starting the Blackhawks on their way to a 25-14, 25-20 victory.
"I missed that first serve so I felt I had to redeem myself a little bit," Carlini said. "That was a little embarrassing. That's one thing I've been working a lot this year is my serving, I need to be more consistent."
Geneva (0-1) had no answer for Carlini during the run. Coach K.C. Johnsen called two timeouts, and each time Carlini came back on the court and kept firing the ball hard and deep off the Vikings back row trying helplessly to make an accurate pass.
"I give her all the credit in the world," Johnsen said. "She's a remarkable player. I'll be glad next year when she's at Wisconsin. She's a major talent, major force in the game.
"She's a tremendous server," Johnsen continued. "Hopefully we'll get another chance somewhere down the line at a tournament or something. Hopefully by then we'll be a little more ready, but we certainly want to give her and West Aurora a lot of credit. That's a player. She's probably as good as we've seen in a long time."
Geneva didn't lead once in either game. West Aurora jumped ahead 12-6 in Game 2 but the Vikings pulled even at 15 on a Jess Wicinski kill.
Junior middle Taylor Marmitt provided one highlight for the Vikings when she blocked a kill attempt by Carlini. Her teammates quickly jumped on Marmitt to celebrate the point.
"It was kind of just a lucky block. She's such a good player. I just got my hands up and tried my hardest," said Marmitt adding there's plenty Geneva can take from the opening loss.
"It will help us. We grew together as a team. At first I think we were a little shocked what happened but the second game we got into it. That (service run) was amazing."
Carlini didn't have another 10-point run to end the second game, though she contributed in plenty of other ways with 17 assists and 9 kills. The Blackhawks took the lead for good on Nerissa Vogt's kill and ended the match on a kill by Molly Jordan. Those two middles filled in for normal starter Abriya Zeitz who rolled her ankle Saturday and aggravated it before Monday's match.
Both Geneva and West Aurora host their own tournaments Saturday. West Aurora coach Kari Nicholson said Carlini's service run was a fitting way to start the home portion of her senior season.
"That was a pretty good run of aces right there," Nicholson said. "That was pretty impressive. Our first home game, I think you are a little tight and nervous and I think that calmed us all down."
Monday's win was the latest in a strong start to the season for the Blackhawks (5-1) They were second Saturday at the Benet Tournament losing only 28-26, 25-23 to the defending state champ Redwings. West Aurora was 1-4 at the same tournament last year.
They certainly made a believer of Johnsen.
"She's got some people who can play with her a little more than the other years," Johnsen said. "That's a pretty nice team they've got there. I think they are going to have a real good year and we showed some moments where some of your younger people stepped up and our seniors showed some poise and leadership under fire."
Hannah Buck led Geneva with 8 kills and Maddie Courter added 3. Kelly Dalheim had 6 digs and Hannah Lanasa 5.
"We wanted to stress to our kids to stay up, keep battling and not be intimidated," Johnsen said.