Girls volleyball: No. 1 Geneva claims regional championship
Beating a team three times in one season is no small task.
However, it comes a little easier when your volleyball team has four starters who are 6-foot-tall or above.
No. 1 Geneva (35-1) relied on its superior size, athleticism and experience during Thursday night's 25-13, 25-19 Class 4A regional championship victory over Waubonsie Valley (22-15) at St. Charles North.
Senior outside hitters Grace Loberg and Ally Barrett recorded 9 kills apiece to help lead the top-seeded Vikings to their third win of the season over eighth-seeded Waubonsie Valley.
Geneva also received solid performances from senior middle blocker Julia Brown (5 kills, 2 blocks) and senior setter Mikayla Lanasa (23 assists).
"Our passing was amazing," said Brown, who collected 3 of her kills during the second set. "When that happens, it makes it easier to set the middle. Mikayla did a great job of setting us.
"This is just a good example of a game where we all played together like we practiced."
With ultrapowerful outside hitters like Loberg and Barrett, it would be easy to focus on that strength to overwhelm opponents.
Vikings coach Annie Seitelman realizes that a balanced attack can make everyone's job a little easier.
"We always try to get our middles involved every match but obviously that is dictated by our passing," said Seitelman. "It's nice when we're able to get her (Brown) the ball. She did a real nice job for us."
Geneva jumped out to a 9-2 lead and gradually pulled away in the opening set.
Loberg supplied 5 kills and 2 blocks while Barrett added 3 kills and a pair of service aces.
The Vikings also received a huge defensive boost from junior Molly Lambillotte, who made a pair of sensational digs -- the latter coming as she sprinted toward her own bench -- to help set up an eventual block from Brown and extend the lead to 16-7.
"We were making some great digs that we were able to transition out of," said Seitelman. "I liked that we started off strong."
Waubonsie, led by seniors Anna Jaskoviak (4 kills, 1 ace), Briana Webb (4 kills, 2 aces), and sophomore Cadyn Linden (2 aces), held brief leads of 4-3, 7-6, and 8-7 in the second set.
"There were times we put pressure on them," said Warriors coach Kari Galen. "I was proud of how they played together as a team."
Geneva, which lost to Naperville North in the regional finals last season, tied it at 8-8 on a tip kill by Loberg, grabbed the lead for good after a lift call on the Warriors, and eventually sealed the decision on back-to-back kills from Brown and Barrett.
"We were very motivated by what happened last year," said Brown.
"Our season was cut short last year -- shorter than they would have liked," said Seitelman, whose team returns home to face fifth-seeded Neuqua Valley in Tuesday's sectional semifinals.
Jaskoviak, Webb and Shayla Friker played their final high school matches for the Warriors.
"They've had a strong impact on the program," said Galen. "They're all excellent role models on the court, always staying positive with their teammates. They've been true leaders this season."