MAPLE PARK – The Geneva girls volleyball team overcame a shaky start Wednesday night to down Kaneland in three games in a tight, nonconference match.
After dropping the first game, 25-18, the Vikings regrouped to win the second and third contests, 25-22 and 25-23.
“This is always an interesting match because everyone knows everyone,” Geneva coach KC Johnsen said of playing Kaneland, a former conference rival in the Western Sun Conference. “You don’t like losing to your good friends. So it either brings out the best, which we saw some incredible things, or you might make a few more errors than you normally make. It was a little bit of both tonight.”
Hitting and serving errors coupled with lethal hits by the Knights’ Ellie Dunn kept Geneva trailing throughout the first game. Dunn led all players with 19 kills, and she also added 12 digs and seven blocks.
“I thought they were playing some great defense early and we were kind of back on our heels,” Johnsen said.
In the second game, the Vikings (15-5) came out strong and built a 20-14 lead on a block by Hannah Lanasa (nine kills). Geneva’s defense neutralized Dunn, and Vikings freshman Grace Loberg, who also finished the night with nine kills, started finding holes in the Knights’ defense.
After a timeout, Kaneland (9-10) rallied to tie the game 20-20 on a Geneva hitting error. Kaneland took a 22-21 lead on another Dunn kill but the momentum swung back to the Vikings as they scored the last four points of the game.
“I thought we came out a played a great Game 1 with the way we dictated the play,” Kaneland coach Kerri McCastland said. “In the second game, we definitely shifted and then came back, which is what pushed it to three.”
“It was pretty intense since we knew a lot of the players on Kaneland,” Loberg said. “We were nervous coming into this game, but we knew we had a chance.”
The third game was a tight contest that saw seven lead changes and seven ties. Dunn’s final kill of the night tied the game at 23, but the Knights couldn’t sustain momentum as the Vikings nailed down a road victory.
“The third game, point for point, all the way out with a team of that caliber is a great compliment to the girls,” McCastland said.
Geneva junior Kelsey Wicinski led all players with 34 digs. Teammate Courtney Caruso had 23 assists while junior Maddie Courter had a match-high 10 blocks for the Vikings.
Jenny Lubic tallied 19 assists for Kaneland. Kathy Nguyen led the Knights with 12 digs, and Vanessa Gould and Anna Senese contributed nine digs apiece.