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Geneva volleyball looks for quicker start in sectional final

The Geneva and Glenbard West girls volleyball teams both have played 38 matches entering tonight’s 4A Larkin Sectional final.

That doesn’t mean the Vikings and Hilltoppers see the first point in the air and feel at ease.

Glenbard West admittedly followed form after falling into – and erasing – a 20-15 deficit in the first game of Tuesday’s semifinal against St. Charles North. Geneva (29-9) still was getting acclimated to St. Charles East’s student section in the early stages of its own semifinal sweep.

“At first we came in timid,” Vikings junior middle Taylor Marmitt said, “but once we got our momentum going, we were fine.”

Sounds simple enough, but getting there can be a

Top-seeded Glenbard West (36-2) certainly could attest after North’s blossoming back line complemented its block to build an early lead. Hilltoppers coach Pete Mastandrea burned a pair of timeouts in the first game, eventually getting players back on track.

While Glenbard West only has required three games in three matches this season – including a victory against Geneva in the Hiltoppers’ early-season invitational – many of its sweeps haven’t been without drama.

“I guess we’re kind of used to it,” said senior outside hitter Megan Wagner, who collected 17 kills against the North Stars. “We know how to handle the pressure. We really wanted to win, so our will to win just pushed us up a little bit.”

Although he was not a member of the team’s staff then, Mastandrea carries Glenbard West’s 1983 state championship plaque in his bag. The Hilltoppers won 36 matches that fall, too. This edition can break the single-season school record with a victory tonight.

Geneva also is pushing for a berth in Saturday’s Niles West Supersectional against the winner of today’s match between New Trier and Niles West.

The Vikings won regional titles in 2008 and 2009 with Lauren Wicinski – a Michigan State junior hitter who is the older sister of current Vikings Jess and Kelsey – as a top force.

With three sophomores contributing this year – defensive specialist Kelsey Wicinski, outside hitter Hannah Lanasa and middle Maddie Courter – Vikings coach KC Johnsen realizes the magnitude of each match grows by the round. Hence some of the early shakiness.

“Glenbard West has some very solid pieces and Pete’s a great coach,” Johnsen said. “They’ll be ready.”

So will the Vikings. It just might take a point or two.

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