During the postseason, Geneva's volleyball team turned away strong competition from the likes of Batavia, Glenbard West and St. Charles North on the way to its first-ever sectional championship.
On Saturday, the Vikings (29-10) ran into an immovable object in the form of New Trier (31-2).
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The defending state runner-up Trevians punched their second straight ticket downstate with a 25-19, 25-21 Class 4A supersectional victory at St. Charles East.
"That's quite a team," Vikings coach K.C. Johnsen said of the Trevians. "They've got a very quick, tall team -- probably as tough as any we've seen all year."
Armed with 4 Division 1 recruits -- 6-foot-3 Haley Fauntleroy (Virginia), 6-foot Taylor Tashima (Northwestern), 6-5 Sarah Shafiq (Cal) and Emmy Friedler (Penn) -- New Trier had a little bit too much size and firepower for the Vikings.
"That's the first team we've played with that kind of height," Geneva junior libero Kelsey Wicinski said of the Trevians.
In Game 1, the Vikings went on a 4-0 run capped by freshman Grace Loberg's block to pull within 14-13 only to watch the Trevians score 5 unanswered points of their own, 2 coming off kills from Abbey Boyd (5 kills).
"You could definitely tell in the first game that we were shaky and a little intimidated," said Wicinski, who finished with 15 digs.
When New Trier jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second game, it appeared as if the Vikings would go away quietly in spite of a big cheering section.
That didn't happen.
Instead, the Vikings scratched and clawed back, pulling within a point at 20-19 and 21-20.
After Loberg's team-leading seventh kill of the night cut New Trier's lead to 23-21 a few moments later, the Trevians put the match away on a tip kill by Shafiq and kill off the top of the net from Tashima (8 kills, 14 assists).
"She's as good as setter as we've seen all year," Johnsen said of Tashima. "We knew all about her coming in but sometimes that knowing her is a little overrated. She's quite a player."
With the win, New Trier earned a state semifinal rematch with Mother McAuley Friday night at Redbird Arena in Normal.
"We're really excited to take this through," said New Trier coach Hannah Hsieh. "We're happy to be going down (to Normal) again. We've got nine seniors and I know they want it badly."
That experience may have tipped the scales in favor of the Trevians.
"I think it's a huge factor," said Hsieh. "The girls know how to play under pressure and play under the scrutiny of big crowds."
"This is our very first time getting to the supersectional -- we're just really proud that we got here," said Wicinski. "We played pretty well. We tried fighting but just couldn't get it done."
Freshman Ally Barrett and junior Hannah Lanasa added 4 and 3 kills, respectively, for Geneva, which fielded more freshmen and sophomores (5) than seniors (3) on its roster this season.
"I was really proud of the kids in that they didn't use that as a crutch all year -- that we're young," said Johnsen. "We didn't get caught up into thinking, 'well, next year we're going to be great.' They wanted to win tonight and to keep playing.
"I think that's a good sign of maturity in these kids as far as being athletes.
"They (the Trevians) deserve to be going down there (Normal) and we showed that we deserved to get this far."