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updated: 8/27/2013 11:19 PM

Geneva shines in opener

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

There were unmistakable signs of first-match jitters Tuesday night at Rosary.

But visiting Geneva, having had to replace 10 varsity members from a Class 4A girls volleyball regional championship team from last fall, received across-the-board contributions from its new-look team to win in straight sets.

The Vikings' Ally Barrett powered home match point to deliver Geneva past the Royals 25-21 and 25-22 in Aurora during the schools' season opener.

"We have a lot of younger players," said Geneva senior middle hitter Taylor Marmitt, who had critical blocks for points in the latter stages of each game for the Vikings. "We graduated 10 seniors from last year. Everyone meshed together, and we got it done. We had to get used to each other."

With Geneva coach KC Johnsen frequently subbing out his front-row players, the strategy enabled several role players to step to the forefront.

Grace Lobert, a freshman outside hitter, led Geneva with 6 kills; Hannah Lanasa, meanwhile, was a solidifying force for the Vikings by never leaving the lineup.

When called upon for her serving prowess, junior Megan Cameron, making her varsity debut for the Vikings, delivered like a seasoned veteran.

The diminutive right-hander fundamentally altered the first set with 3 of her match-high 5 aces; the junior later served 4 straight points to thwart a late Rosary second-game comeback.

"Serving is a big part of the game," said Cameron, whose flat-footed, line-drive serves bewildered the Royals' serve-receive. "I try to do my best. Everyone is very supportive (of the new varsity members)."

"(Cameron) is a very good server," Johnsen said.

The match featured 10 combined net or serve-receive violations, and double hits were equally commonplace.

Marmitt broke the last of nine first-game ties with back-to-back points for Geneva, and the Vikings' 5-1 game-ending run nearly made the second game anticlimactic.

Geneva (1-0) scored 8 of the first 10 points and threatened to break it wide open by maintaining the spread with a 17-9 lead.

But Rosary (0-1) responded as Nina Valaitis' spirited overall play was symbolized by her match-high 12 kills and team-best 8 digs.

The junior spearheaded the Royals' run that reduced the deficit to a single point at 18-17 following a Michaela Ping kill.

But the final Cameron ace for Geneva completed a quick 4-point burst for the Vikings that provided enough breathing room for Loberg to close out the non-conference match.

"We are trying to prepare ourselves for conference," Valaitis said. "We needed to keep the momentum. We have a lot of younger players."

"I am actually impressed with how we came back," Rosary alumnus and coach Rachel Hartmann said. "That's a positive."

"It's a good way to start the season," Johnsen said.

Geneva junior Kelsey Wincinski had 11 digs to pace the schools' defensive leaders.

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