Wicinski era winding down at Geneva -- for volleyball

 
 
Updated 10/8/2014 3:48 PM
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  • Geneva's Kelsey Wicinski, left, is embraced by her older sister, Jess, two years ago during a match. Kelsey is finishing up her senior year and is the last of three Wicinskis to star on the volleyball court for the Vikings.

      Geneva's Kelsey Wicinski, left, is embraced by her older sister, Jess, two years ago during a match. Kelsey is finishing up her senior year and is the last of three Wicinskis to star on the volleyball court for the Vikings. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Any senior playing in their final few matches of their high school career is going to be filled with plenty of mixed emotions this time of year.

Geneva senior Kelsey Wicinski is certainly no exception.

Not only does the standout libero have all her own memories of playing on some of the best Vikings teams in school history -- including the only one to win a sectional championship -- she's got an attachment to the school unlike few others with a father as the football coach and two older sisters who also were excellent athletes.

"I've been going to those games since I was 3 or 4," Wicinski said of her father Rob's football team. "So sad, it's gone so fast, we have two more weeks and then it's postseason. I'm going to cry."

Wicinski wouldn't have that feeling if it hasn't been so much fun and so rewarding to play at Geneva. After a 29-win season last year, the Vikings improved to 17-4 this year with a win over West Chicago Tuesday heading into a challenging weekend coming up at the Mizuno Cup.

"It's a whole different team than last year and we're really close," Wicinski said. "It will be hard leaving."

While she'll be sad when the season ends, Wicinski has a bright future waiting her. She committed to Maryland over Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois.

"It's the Big Ten, I love the coaches and it's just a beautiful campus," Wicinski said. "I'm just really excited to play in the best volleyball conference."

Both of Kelsey's older sisters also went on to play volleyball in college. Jess is currently at Quincy College and Lauren graduated last year after a record-setting career at Michigan State.

While Kelsey decided not to pick the same Big Ten school as Lauren -- "I wanted to set my own path and not follow in my sister's footsteps," she said -- she is looking forward to a fun final couple weeks at Geneva and writing the last chapter on the three Wicinskis being in the middle of some wildly successful Viking teams.

"I want to leave on a good note and leave a good legacy," Wicinski said.

Volleyball mecca: In the latest Daily Herald Top 20 volleyball rankings, St. Charles East checks in at No. 7, Geneva No. 8 and St. Charles North No. 16.

Jennie Kull's Saints once again are on top of the Upstate Eight River. Their win over Larkin on Tuesday clinched at least a share of the title, one they can win outright by beating St. Charles North next Tuesday. The North Stars shared the title with the Saints last year and can create a 3-way tie with a win.

Kull is impressed not only by her team but the level of volleyball in the Tri-Cities. The Saints, North Stars and Vikings won 31, 30 and 29 games, respectively, a year ago, and they are right back at it this fall.

"We know we've got a tough road," Kull said. "I'm really proud of the way the Fox Valley has upped its game. Geneva has come on, they have Grace Loberg and Ally Barrett and they have some great players and are really committed to the game. Same with North. They have really good players. Batavia, it's just really nice to have the Tri-Cities with such great volleyball. I'm really proud of that because that wasn't always the case."

Kull likes the balance of her team class-wise, from seniors that include Anne Hughes, Meagan Smith, Megan Schildmeyer and Mikaela Mosquera to sophomores such as Kyla Augustine and Morgan Kull and three juniors contributing, the Saints are positioned well not only for the stretch run this season but also the years to come.

"When you have seniors and you have the young ones too you have to have a good balance and we really do," Kull said. "They respect each other and that's a big thing."

Chipping in: As talented as players like the Wisconsin-commit Loberg is, Geneva has worked to get all of its offensive options involved this fall.

In Tuesday's win, for example, Barrett led the team with 6 kills with Kyley Thompson and Maddie Courter right behind at 5.

"I think we've had a nice balanced offense," Geneva coach Annie Seitelman said. "They don't necessarily have to carry the workload. If one kid is having an off-night another one is picking it up."

Student of the game: Kailey Grove has made an impression on her coach at St. Charles North, Lindsey Hawkins.

"She really understands this game," Hawkins said. "She has been watching this game since she was very little. Her volleyball IQ is very good."

Grove, a 6-foot-1 senior middle hitter, helps the North Stars be a force at the net.

"We always knew that could be a strength of ours," Hawkins said. "We try to work on that at practice a lot. I feel that's a reason why our defense is strong."

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