St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull knew her team needed to dig deep after dropping Game 1 to its Upstate Eight counterpart Geneva.
The Fighting Saints had just come off a tough three-set loss to nationally-ranked Plainfield North in the semifinals of Saturday's Mizuno Cup at the Great Lakes Center and were staring at an 0-1 deficit in the third-place match against the Vikings.
Kull's team regrouped and found the extra effort during a 19-25, 25-17, 25-22 victory, finishing the weekend tournament with a 4-1 record and third place overall.
"This is the time when we're trying to get better," Kull said. "We had a really tough match before and our kids were tired. We had to try and get their energy back up in Games 2 and 3."
Down 9-8 in game one, Geneva freshman outside hitter Ally Barrett helped fuel a 7-0 Viking run behind five kills during that stretch.
Ashley Bullock cut Geneva's lead to 21-19 with a block on an attack attempt from the Vikings' Grace Loberg, but Geneva scored the next four points, connecting on four-straight attempts to claim the game one win. "Coach Kull told us that we had to decide if we want to win," senior setter Carly Jimenez said. "We had to work hard, keep our energy up and I thought we did that. We knew we weren't playing our best, so we decided to pick it up."
In Game 2, St. Charles East (21-5) put some distance between itself and Geneva midway through contest, turning a 15-13 lead into a 22-13 lead as the Vikings were hurt by a service error and two attack errors during that stretch.
Carly Jimenez tallied a kill from her setter's position to give the Saints a 24-17 lead, and they took the game point on a Geneva attack error.
St. Charles East closed out the match by building a 23-18 lead in Game 3 before Geneva made one last push, scoring four of the game's last six points.
A kill by Loberg, followed by a block from Courtney Caruso cut Geneva's deficit to 23-20. The Saints scored next on a kill by Megan Schildmeyer, followed by two more Viking kills by Caruso and Loberg, to cut the Saints' lead to 24-22.
Sydney Urban closed out the match, sending home a kill from the middle.
Geneva (20-7) finished with a 3-2 record and a fourth-place finish while Plainfield North defeated Muskego (Wis.) in the title match. "Overall, it wasn't a bad weekend," Geneva coach KC Johnsen said. "We made it to the top four and this is a good tournament."