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Geneva volleyball overcomes crowd, Batavia

BATAVIA – Geneva’s volleyball team needed about five points to figure out how to harness momentum in an environment where doing so would be almost as difficult as winning.

Batavia’s gym was as raucous as anywhere the Vikings have played this season, and the intense rivalry should have made it even more hostile. Still, Geneva looked every bit like a team on a mission, and five points in each game made it clear Batavia wasn’t going to stand in the Vikings’ way.

Geneva beat Batavia, 25-16, 25-15, on Tuesday in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play on the Bulldogs’ Pack the Place and Alumni night. It was the first time in three years the Vikings (6-4 overall, 2-0 UEC River) had defeated the Bulldogs on an evening intended to intimidate opponents, with Batavia fans dressed in red and gold.

“At first the crowd got to us,” Geneva junior middle hitter Taylor Marmitt said. “Then when we got some momentum. … We could hear our fans get into it and it really helped us.”

Marmitt’s big performance helped the Vikings seize control early. Marmitt and senior right side hitter Renner Burns combined for a kill block in Game 1 that made it 11-9, and Marmitt’s kill off a slide gave the Vikings a seven-point cushion, 17-10.

Another Marmitt kill off a pass from senior Jess Wicinski put Geneva up 19-14, and the Vikings closed out the first set with a sequence that included four straight aces from senior libero Kelly Dalheim.

Batavia led 5-0 to start the second game as well, and the energy appeared to have staying power. Middle hitter Kristen Koncelik notched three kills and senior Briahna Havis served two aces to put the Bulldogs up early.

Geneva, however, stormed back behind a kill from Marmitt. Senior outside hitter Hannah Buck (five kills) terminated from the back row to expose the Bulldogs’ defense, and the Vikings chipped away at their deficit until jumping ahead 10-9 on a sophomore Hannah Lanasa’s kill.

The Vikings’ block slowed Batavia (9-7, 0-2) and helped keep the Bulldogs out of their system.

“We’ve been playing against some really big hitters, and every time we say we have to work on our blocking,” Geneva coach KC Johnsen said. “It was fun to see something you work on actually [work].”

The Vikings pulled away late in the second game mostly from five Batavia hitting errors that left the Bulldogs frustrated.

Batavia’s play did not reflect the potential veteran coach Lori Trippi-Payne sees in her team.

“Geneva played really, really well tonight,” Trippi-Payne said. “They made us look bad.”

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