ST. CHARLES – Down the stretch in Game 2, outside hitter Hannah Lanasa realized it was a little too quiet on Geneva’s side of the volleyball net.
Lanasa and the Vikings had gotten away from some of the cohesive chit-chat that helped them put rival St. Charles North on its heels in Game 1, and a taciturn court meant Geneva could be inside the North Stars’ gym longer than desired Tuesday night.
As soon as the Vikings started talking, they put the North Stars right back where they wanted them.
Geneva rallied in Game 2 and held on to beat North 25-22, 25-23, to remain undefeated in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play.
“We started talking more and communicating,” said Lanasa, who had a match-high 11 kills. “We started covering the middle and tipping to the deep corner, which is where we were able to get a lot of kills. We just needed to talk to one another a little bit.”
Keeping one another apprised helped the Vikings overcome a 22-17 deficit in Game 2 when it looked as if the North Stars (10-7, 1-2 UEC River) would force a third set. Right side hitter Renner Burns hit a winner and defensive specialist Megan Bell served six straight points to put the Vikings up, 24-22.
Burns collected another hit during the run, middle hitter Maddie Courter had a kill block and Hannah Buck had a kill while North committed three errors, including a critical kill attempt that went out of bounds.
The Vikings earned match point on another unforced North error – a testament in part to the adjustments Geneva made to stop North middle hitter Alex Stone (eight kills, 3 ½ blocks) and outsides Irena Grauzinis (seven kills), Taylor Krage and Claire Anderson (five kills each).
“I just think you could see it on our faces,” Geneva coach K.C. Johnsen said. “We got really determined. … When you see a nice determined look you know you have a chance at it.”
Geneva (9-7, 3-0) went to Lanasa early and often in Game 1 and the sophomore delivered. Lanasa put down a kill to end North’s 8-0 run and cut the Vikings’ deficit to four, 10-6. The Vikings tied the score at 13 with an ace from setter Nicole Schneider (10 assists) and went ahead for good, 18-17, on Lanasa’s tipped kill.
North tied it at 21 when Krage’s dig went back over the net for a kill and forced Geneva to use its final timeout. The North Stars came out of the break with an unforced error to give the Vikings another one-point cushion, but Stone tied it again with a kill.
Lanasa and Buck then finished the three-point sequence that put the game away with kills.
“This was a really important match,” Lanasa said. “Batavia, St. Charles [East and North], they’re our rivals and biggest competitors.”
That was one of a few reasons the loss was so disappointing for North.
“[Geneva] always plays good defense,” North Stars interim head coach Doug Foster said. “That’s kind of like the hallmark of their program. We couldn’t put it away. I don’t think there was a specific moment that was like, ‘Oh, that’s why we lost.’ In volleyball, it’s a whole bunch of little things that pile up into what you saw.”