Late in the third game between Geneva and Kaneland Wednesday night a local photographer positioned herself on the Knights' side getting ready for photos of their postgame celebration.
A few points later, the photographer had to hustle to the other end of the court as Kaneland's commanding lead quickly disappeared and it became evident it would be the Vikings getting the last laugh.
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It was that kind of back-and-forth match on Volley for the Cure night. Geneva scored 11 of the final 12 points, turning a 21-14 deficit in the deciding third game into a stunning 25-20, 19-25, 25-22 victory.
"Just a great match," Geneva coach KC Johsen said. "All the kids know each other, they all want to win so badly and play so hard. Volleyball is always about momentum. They had it, we were trying to draw that line in the sand and we had to draw it several times. Finally we got control of it and we got the momentum."
Kaneland (12-7) had not defeated Geneva (13-6) for 19 years until winning on the Vikings' home court two years ago. In front of a loud crowd roaring for both sides, the Knights looked like they had their second win in three years behind the powerful hitting of sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lyndi Scholl and junior Emily Laudont and a program-record 81 digs.
But Geneva put up huge numbers of its own. Kelly Dalheim led the back row with 27 digs. The Vikings combined for 26 blocks paced by Maddie Courter with 8 and Taylor Marmitt 6. Jess Wicinski led Geneva with 10 kills.
"We needed to pick it up and play our hardest and play the game we know how to play," Wicinski said. "Executing better, better shot selection and swinging harder. We all pick each other up, we all work together and it's a really good support group we've got. This was a good one for us, a good boost."
Kaneland raced to 5-0 and 10-2 leads in Game 3. The Knights were still closing in on victory up 20-12 on one of Shayna Tucek's 2 aces.
Hannah Buck began Geneva's comeback with a tip kill. That got Nicole Schneider to the service line where she proceeded to fire seven straight points.
Buck blasted a shot down the line, Schneider had an ace, and Wicinski put a ball away before Buck's block knotted the game at 21.
After Scholl momentarily stopped the bleeding hitting off a Geneva block out of bounds, Buck again connected to tie the score at 22. Hannah Lanasa served the final three points including another ace against a shaken Kaneland who then hit long on match point.
Kaneland coach Todd Weimer was quick to credit the Geneva fans for their role in the comeback.
"The intensity, the girls are jumping up a little higher, the crowd is getting in it, the boys are whipping their shirts around, it just creates an environment so mentally you start feeling like you are drowning a little bit," Weimer said. "You can't quite hear your teammates. I think that has a positive effect for the home team and a big momentum-changer. And you have 10 (Geneva) seniors who probably don't want to lose to Kaneland their senior year."
Johnsen credited Morgan Stasell for going in during the comeback and getting a couple good touches.
"Some of those balls we started getting breaks on and earlier they were getting the breaks," Johnsen said.
Dunn (12 kills, 3 blocks, 5 digs); Tucek (22 digs, 2 aces); Scholl (9 kills, 20 digs); Laudont (7 kills, 14 digs); Lauren Banbury (4 kills); Keri Groen (7 kills) and Ashley Prost (29 assists, 9 digs) all had good games for Kaneland who can take positives despite the outcome, according to Weimer.
"It's really tough to talk to the team like that because you know everyone is discouraged, everyone is really upset, they are frustrated," Weimer said. "They know they had that win. We told our girls we had no pressure tonight, Geneva is supposed to beat us. They should be beating us just like we would beat Hinckley-Big Rock. We're encouraged to play that well, but I know the girls don't see that. We just have to finish. It's not consistent with our program but every once in awhile you get that spat where you have to learn how to finish matches, especially when you are up 21-15."