GENEVA – You’ll have to excuse Geneva volleyball coach KC Johnsen for being at a loss for words after the Vikings’ 2-1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-22) win over rival Kaneland Wednesday night.
Trailing 21-14 in Game 3, a Geneva comeback had little credence as the Vikings’ appeared to be buried after falling way behind in the matches’ final set.
Alas, a few Kaneland unforced errors sandwiched around the play of Geneva’s Hannah Buck provided the unbelievable script to the Vikings’ comeback. “It would have been enjoyable even if we hadn’t caught them at the end – maybe,” Johnsen said with a big grin. “I really don’t know how that happened. They had it and we were trying to draw that line in the sand and we had to do it several times. We finally got it, we controlled it, and I finally started to breathe again.”
The healthy rivalry between the two schools made the match win all the more disheartening for Kaneland.
After a tightly fought opening-game loss, the Knights (12-7) were mostly in control for the remainder of Games 2 and 3, looking like they would coast to the win.
But seven consecutive Geneva (13-6) points, highlighted by three Buck kills and a block squared Game 2 at 21-all.
The Knights took a brief 22-21 lead before Buck and Jess Wicinski kills put the Vikings back in front. A Buck ace and a Kaneland unforced error completed the improbable Geneva comeback.
The Knights’ seized control in Game 3 thanks in part to its big front line, which helped alter a number of Geneva offensive possessions.
The Knights’ size provided more time in its own offensive zone to set up plays. The end results were a number of clean kills for Lyndi Scholl and Ellie Dunn. Both players finished with 10 kills.
The strong overall match made the loss all the more frustrating for Kaneland.
“This wasn’t consistent with our program but every once in a while we get that spat where you have to learn how to finish matches, especially when you’re up 21-14,” Kaneland coach Todd Weimer said. “The girls jumping and the boys [in the stands] twirling their shirts creates an environment where you mentally feel like you’re drowning. That’s a big momentum pusher when you have a crowd behind you. It was tough to talk to my team because they know they had that win.”
The Knights’ dominance in the middle stages of the match was buoyed by limiting Buck’s offensive chances. The usually consistent senior was held without a kill in Game 2 before coming on strong with five in the third game.