BATAVIA – Geneva girls volleyball players led their coaches out of the gym midway through the second game of Tuesday’s second 4A Batavia Regional semifinal.
With the host Bulldogs in control against York, the Vikings, fresh from a sweep of South Elgin, had seen enough.
Come Thursday, Batavia hopes it again has a say in showing Geneva the door.
The Bulldogs defeated York, 25-14, 25-21, to set up a rematch with their Upstate Eight Conference River Division rivals for the regional title. The Vikings won on this court, 25-15, 25-16, in mid-September en route to a league championship, and the Bulldogs (20-16) haven’t forgotten about that result.
“We didn’t play our best match, and they played really well,” Batavia junior libero Jessica Hartmann said, “so we really wanted to get out there and have another shot at it. And so now we’re ready.”
Geneva (27-9) opened the night with a 25-19, 25-9 victory against South Elgin (20-10-3).
While the Storm stuck around in the first stages of Game 1, holding a 12-9 lead, the Vikings recovered behind a varied attack that included six kills apiece from Hannah Buck and Jess Wicinski.
Fellow senior Becca Spitzig – a reserve in her first season on varsity and fourth with the program – recorded a soft kill on match point moments after coach KC Johnsen summoned her from the bench.
“I was a little off-balance,” Spitzig said, “but I can make it work.”
Spitzig proved to be just one further option for the Storm to worry about. South Elgin struggled with Geneva’s pace and efficiency, which started with a Kelly Dalheim (15 digs) and Kelsey Wicinski (11) from the back row.
With Buck and Jess Wicinski swinging away from the net and Maddie Courter (six blocks) playing well on the defensive end, the Vikings only had to concern themselves with executing.
“We were really putting the ball where we wanted it to go on the first contact, whether it was the spike or a serve or a tip or anything,” Johnsen said. “When we get that first contact in great shape, that gives us a lot of options, and it’s a lot harder to defend then.”
In the nightcap, York (14-20) attempted to block Batavia from the outside, but the Bulldogs’ back row adjusted, spotting the block and calling cross-court and middle shots for their hitters down the stretch.
Coach Lori Trippi-Payne lauded the Bulldogs’ vision, but her own attention to detail helped turn the tide in Game 1. The Dukes, who eliminated Batavia in a 2010 sectional semifinal, climbed to within 15-14 before a Heather Meyer kill gave the Bulldogs the ball back.
Hartmann cruised from there, serving nine successive points to close the game.
“I knew that we had to get something going,” she said. “It was a really close game. Both teams were playing really well. ... Trippi was giving me a zone and I just kept on hitting it, so that worked out for us well.”
Much like Geneva, Batavia prevailed thanks to its balance.
Meyer (eight kills), Kristen Koncelik (seven) and Shea Stanley (six) paced the offense as Audrey Faulhaber dished 21 assists.
“When you’ve got your middles and your right side all firing, then it makes it a little easier on your outsides to do that kind of a job,” Trippi-Payne said. “We definitely were spreading it around, that’s for certain.”
Thayer and Anysa Ocon teamed on three blocks for the Bulldogs, while Maddie Jaudon had eight digs.