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Prep volleyball insider: Strong support system for Geneva sophomore

This week's prep volleyball news and notes

Geneva’s Kelsey Wicinski (left) and Hannah Buck (right) celebrate winning the first game against St. Charles North during Tuesday’s match at St. Charles.
Geneva’s Kelsey Wicinski (left) and Hannah Buck (right) celebrate winning the first game against St. Charles North during Tuesday’s match at St. Charles.

Strong support system

Geneva sophomore outside hitter Hannah Lanasa has been a huge contributor for the Vikings this season, and coach KC Johnsen thinks the budding star is getting a boost from her older teammates.

The Vikings have plenty of leadership at the pins this season. Senior outside hitter Hannah Buck has led the team offensively while senior outside Jess Wicinski and senior right side Renner Burns continue their significant contributions. Meanwhile, senior libero Kelly Dalheim anchors the Vikings’ defense and covers the court masterfully.

The maturity and experience inevitably helps Lanasa’s development, Johnsen said.

“She’s a sophomore and sometimes she plays like a sophomore and sometimes she plays like [I know she can] because she has a ton of potential,” Johnsen said. “It’s really good for her to have an outside like Hannah Buck who is a senior who makes play after play for you and comes up with some big swings. That takes some pressure off [Lanasa.] I think it’s really beneficial for [her] to have so many senior players at such crucial positions.”

Giving back

Last year, St. Charles North’s volleyball players started a tradition that puts everything in perspective. The team visits Marklund, a community in Geneva for people with developmental disabilities and special health care needs, and spends time with residents there. They have helped decorate the Marklund residents’ homes, played softball and kickball games with them, and – most importantly – learned the importance of giving back to the community.

In return, a few Marklund residents attended one of the North Stars’ matches. This year, they came to North’s showdown Tuesday against Geneva – a 25-22, 25-23 Upstate Eight Conference River Division loss.

“We would have loved to win for them, but their energy has helped us out,” said Doug Foster, who is sharing coaching responsibilities during coach Lindsey Hawkins’ maternity leave. “It’s a neat tradition. It gives an awesome perspective to everyone involved. The residents love it, we love it and it’s kind of an honor to be a part of that.”

Good showing

Aurora Christian went 4-1 in its own tournament last weekend and playing teams from bigger schools definitely helped the Eagles grow, coach Allison Kingsbury said.

“The girls have shown a lot of improvement from the beginning of the season,” Kingsbury said. “They have been working hard and coming together as a unit. We have been fortunate to play many solid teams in the early part of our season, which has prepared us well for schools bigger than us, like the ones in our tournament.”

Senior setter Taylor Knauf (165 assists) has been running the show and has counted on contributions from senior middle Faith Montalbano (113 kills and 35 blocks). Makayla Beebe (182 digs) has anchored the back row and senior Keagan Johnson has served aggressively with 23 aces.

“The part of our game that has really improved is our aggressive serving and serve receive,” Kingsbury said. “We have seen team chemistry improve immensely, and I’m excited to see how that will continue to grow our team in all areas.” 

The Eagles are 7-10 overall and 1-3 in the Suburban Christian Conference.

– Maureen Lynch,


Kelly Dalheim, Geneva, senior, libero
What she did: Dalheim made a big adjustment Tuesday when North Stars’ middle hitter Alex Stone started running the slide. Dalheim covered the court and dug balls that seemed destined for the floor. She finished with 21 digs in the two-game match.

What the Warriors did: The Warriors went 2-1 Saturday for their best finish in the Wheaton Classic in the past six seasons. Sydney Vischer (36 kills) and Bianca Cifaldi (45 kills) anchored the offense from the outside. Michelle Ridderhoff (5 blocks, 13 kills) and Brianna Tellschow (5 blocks, 20 kills) controlled the middle and Sarah McClain dished 78 assists. Jessica Bosse finished with 54 digs.


Geneva could just make a statement in the UEC River Division. The Vikings are cruising at 3-0 and have one of the better defenses in the area with blockers Maddie Courter, and Taylor Marmitt, and Dalheim.


Can Batavia show swagger this weekend at the Waubonsie Valley Warrior Blast? Will Rosary continue its strong play at the same tournament? The field is solid and both teams will be tested, beginning Friday night and concluding Saturday afternoon.


Looking more and more like a crash course between Geneva and defending champion St. Charles East for the UEC River title.

The two unbeaten teams in the conference will meet late in the season, and if both can keep their noses clean between now and then, it should be a heck of a night.

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