Girls volleyball: Geneva tops St. Charles East to take DuKane lead
Unlike college volleyball that's a best of five format, high school teams play best of three.
With the way Geneva and St. Charles East go at it, battling through one long point after another between two exceptionally evenly matched rosters filled with players who know each other from club volleyball, that's probably a good thing. If the Vikings and Saints ever did go best of five, they might still be playing.
Geneva left its home court Tuesday on the right side of a marathon match, outlasting the Saints 27-29, 25-19, 25-23 in another back-and-forth battle that featured 33 ties and 19 lead changes.
Vikings junior Cassidy Brown finally put an end to things, taking a set from Anna Loberg and blasting her 10th kill off the Saints block on match point.
"We know a lot of those girls and it was very important for us to show them what we have," said Brown, who had to work for each one of those kills against a scrappy Saints defense that got a lot of difficult balls up.
"We knew going in they had a very good defensive team so we had to help each other out with where to go and find a way to get the ball down," Brown said.
Geneva (11-5, 3-0) still has four DuKane Conference matches to go but went a long way toward a conference title by beating the Saints (9-5, 2-1).
"There's no easy conference match," Vikings coach Annie Seitelman said. "We're battling every Tuesday. So to start off this strong especially against Wheaton Warrenville South, (St. Charles) North and now East, that's three very good schools."
St. Charles East got off to a good start, rallying from a 13-7 deficit in the first set to pull even at 15 on Amarion Isbell's block. The Saints got down again 22-20 on Devynn Day's kill, then rallied behind strong serving by Emily Stallman to get their first set point at 24-22.
The Vikings erased two straight set points and even got one of their own up 25-24 only to hit long. It eventually took the Saints their fifth try on set point before a Skyler Misch kill gave St. Charles East the win.
"It was frustrating because I think we made a lot of unforced errors but even with those errors we were still hanging with them so we knew if we cleaned up those errors we would be right back in the game," Geneva libero Grace Hinchman said.
Seitelman gave St. Charles East's serving credit for a lot of those mistakes. The Saints served 10 aces in the match, led by five from Stallman, though they also missed 11 serves including a couple costly ones late in the third set.
"They served fantastic," Seitelman said. "Our passing struggled and second set it got better. We had a little lapse in the third set but I was happy with how they responded."
After trailing early in the second set, Geneva went ahead to stay at 15-13 on back-to-back kills by Day.
Neither team led by more than 3 points in the third set. That came on Mary Cate McCormick's ace to put the Vikings up 19-16.
Saints coach Jennie Kull called time, and her team quickly scored the next five points that included another Stallman ace and Anita Prybell and Rachel Sheehan blocking two straight shots to win a rally.
Now down 21-19, Geneva had one last surge at just the right time, a 6-2 run to end the match with kills by Day, Brown and one from McCormick that the Saints felt went long but made it 24-22. After Prybell's kill got the Saints within 24-23, Brown ended the match on the next point.
"A lot of it was these kids and their desire to win," Seitelman said. "Their mentality. I think they realized they let that first set slip away from them. Home court, conference match, they didn't want to lose."
Day led both teams with 11 kills and McCormick added 6. Loberg had 23 assists and 14 digs, Hinchman finished with 24 digs and Isabella Chiefari sparked Geneva in the middle with 6 blocks.
Saints setter Nina Scoliere totaled 21 assists, 15 digs and 4 kills and had plenty of help from Stallman (17 digs), Lauren Pondel (8 digs), Misch (9 kills), Isbell (3 kills, 3 blocks), Kayla Daros (2 aces, 9 digs, 4 assists) and Prybell (2 aces, 8 kills, 3 blocks).
"We just didn't execute like we have been the last couple matches," Kull said. "Geneva was very steady and played very well.
"I told the kids this is one of those matches you are going to learn from. We are going to take this apart piece by piece and figure out how to get better."