Five days after losing quietly to Geneva in two games, DeKalb coach Ben Fisher hoped for a much better showing when the teams matched up again on Thursday. But after Maddie Courter sandwiched two aces around a block kill by Taylor Marmitt, the host Vikings were celebrating an 8-1 game one lead that looked eerily similar to Saturday's decisive victory at the Geneva Invitational.
However, to the surprise of most fans at Geneva, the visiting Barbs did most of the celebrating the rest of the match. Following a timeout, DeKalb scored 11 of the next 14 points and never trailed again en route to a 25-21, 25-19 nonconference win.
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Fisher said the dramatic change of events had nothing to do with coaching strategy or adjustments.
"We just didn't give up," he said of his 5-2 squad. "It was our scrappiness. That's one way to put it. When we fell behind, we just relaxed and played each point as hard as we could. We didn't give up on a single play. The girls gave a great effort. We didn't play great offensively, but our defense kept us in the game with some great blocking and digging and gave us opportunities to hang around and keep at it and find ways to score points."
DeKalb took its first lead of game one 11-10 on a Geneva service error. The Vikings tied the score on four occasions before the Barbs went ahead for good 17-16 on the first of five service aces by libero Nicole Schladt.
Schladt delivered two more aces as part of a 6-0 run that pushed DeKalb in front 22-16. A block kill by Marmitt drew Geneva within 23-21, but senior middle blocker Courtney Wagner clinched the game in the Barbs' favor by pounding a slide attack for one kill and then spiking a quick set at middle front to the floor for the game-winner.
The Barbs carried the momentum to game two, building a 4-0 lead. Geneva (8-3) crept within 5-4 on a left-side kill by sophomore outside hitter Kyley Thompson, who paced the hosts with a match-high six kills.
But DeKalb promptly scored the next five points behind a series of Viking passing and hitting errors. Geneva inched as close as 15-13 on a DeKalb net violation but couldn't overcome inconsistent play, coach KC Johnsen said. DeKalb's last six points came off two Viking spikes that sailed out of bounds, two net violations, a serve into the net and a shanked pass.
"DeKalb played very well tonight. We played poorly, and that's a bad combination," Johnsen said. "Give them credit. They played better than they did on Saturday. They played harder, scrappier and smarter than we did. It felt like we were playing in mud."
The Vikings will spend the next three practices preparing for their border and conference rival to the south, Batavia. The Bulldogs visit Geneva on Tuesday. The Vikes defeated the Bulldogs last season on their way to the Upstate Eight Conference River Division championship.