Girls volleyball: Batavia battles its way past Geneva
Powerful kills and acrobatic digs provide plenty of thrills for high school volleyball teams and fans alike.
At times, however, strong serving is the backbone of the sport.
Batavia (9-14, 2-2) combined all three phases of the game -- and added some good, old-fashioned grit and composure along the way during Tuesday night's 25-19, 19-25, 26-24 DuKane Conference victory over rival Geneva (10-9, 2-2).
Playing before an energetic Pack the Place crowd, the Bulldogs snapped a 4-year losing skid against the Vikings.
"We last beat them at their place in 2013," said Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne. "It does feel good. It has been awhile. We've been working hard for this."
The Bulldogs had to work hard again, especially after the Vikings forced a decisive third set thanks in part to a 4-kill second set from sophomore middle Devynn Day (9 kills).
The third set featured 4 lead changes and 10 ties -- the last time coming at 24-24 after the Vikings fought off 3 match points.
Taking the lead at 25-24 on a service error, the Bulldogs earned the victory following a Viking hitting miscue.
"It feels good," said junior co-captain Lauren Haefer, who recorded a team-leading 8 kills. "It's always fun playing Geneva, Last year, we lost to them in three (games) so I think we came into this really wanting to win.
"We played awesome in the third set after playing a little shaky in the second set. It was good to get that win -- really great for our team."
Batavia took the lead for good in the third set at 16-15 on a service ace from senior co-captain Maddy Boyer, who filled the stat sheet with 7 kills, 15 digs, 5 aces and 2 blocks.
Boyer added 2 more aces during the 5-0 run that propelled the Bulldogs to a 19-15 lead.
Geneva staged a valiant late rally that included a pair of kills by Day and 2 blocks from Emma Davine (4 kills).
"That third set was exciting," said Geneva coach Annie Seitelman. "Was it what I wanted? Absolutely not -- but I've got to give my kids some credit for their resiliency and fight. It's just unfortunate that we came out on the short end this time."
The Bulldogs also received solid efforts from Becca Robinson (26 assists, 11 digs, 5 kills), Alexis Whelpley (6 kills -- 4 in the third set) and Sam Juarez (14 digs, 3 aces).
"We made a lot of changes in our lineup," said Trippi-Payne. "We hadn't run that specific lineup until today and the kids did a real good job of it. It was the way we need to match up with Geneva."
Batavia enjoyed a sizable 11-2 edge in service aces.
"We worked a lot on serve receive and we did an exceptionally good job on receiving tonight," said Trippi-Payne. "I think it's what won us the game."
Elizabeth Ford added 7 kills for the Vikings.
"It was good to see the fight but we just have to kick that in a little bit sooner," said Seitelman.