GENEVA – Missed serves, hitting errors and inefficient blocking threatened to derail the Geneva boys volleyball team and its home-court advantage.
After an early hiccup in Tuesday’s Geneva Regional semifinal against Addison Trail, the Vikings recovered for a 13-25, 26-24, 30-28 victory to advance to tonight’s regional final against St. Charles North.
“We just started playing with a lot more intensity and a lot more focus, I think,” Vikings coach K.C. Johnsen said. “We came out in the first game a little tentative and back on our heels a little bit and let them take it to us. Then once we stated snapping back into it, they were two well-played games.”
Mason Stierwalt (15 kills), Nathan Jesko (21 assists) and Brandon Navigato (10 digs) paced 21-11 Geneva. Johnsen also credited a steadying contribution from Chris Houben (five digs, two assists) in the final two games.
North coach Todd Weimer was among those in attendance for the three-game thriller. The top-seeded North Stars defeated Geneva, 25-15, 25-18 in St. Charles earlier this month en route to the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title.
“We’re looking forward to [tonight] and we’re excited,” Weimer said. “We’re ready to play them again.”
North (27-6) shook off some early shakiness to sweep Hoffman Estates, 25-20, 25-12 in the night’s opening semifinal. Pat Misiewicz contributed 20 assists to a balanced attack that featured Jonathan Orech (six kills) and Kevin Beach (five kills, seven digs).
Rolling Meadows Regional: St. Charles East 2, Wheaton Academy 1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-22): Tom DeBruyne (35 assists) dished the ball off to attackers Luke Spicer (12 kills), Iain O’Connor (10) and Jacob Samuels (10) to help East to an upset.
“We came into the match focused and knowing what we wanted to do,” Saints coach Kate McCullagh said.”We had our rocky moments but got out of them as quickly as we could and continued to play consistent volleyball.”
Mark Healy added 11 digs for East, which advanced to face York for the regional title at 7 p.m. today. The Dukes knocked off top regional seed Rolling Meadows in the night’s other semifinal.
Waubonsie Valley Regional: Waubonsie Valley 2, St. Francis 0 (25-15, 28-26): At Aurora, St. Francis, the regional’s top seed, suffered a season-ending upset against the host Warriors.
4A Batavia Regional: Naperville Central 4, Batavia 1: Batavia challenged the sectional’s top seed a day after using a late rally to defeat Glenbard East in its opening-round game. The Bulldogs finished 9-19 in their first season under longtime assistant Lupe Castellanos.
3A Sycamore Regional: Burlington Central 11, Sycamore 1 (6 inn.): Burlington Central (27-3) smacked three home runs in a seven-run third inning. Brooke Gaylord was the winner for the Rockets, who advanced to Saturday’s regional final against the winner of today’s semifinal between Marengo and Genoa-Kingston.
3A St. Francis Regional: St. Francis 18, North Lawndale Charter 0: At Wheaton, St. Francis improved to 25-4 and clinched a spot in Saturday’s regional final against the winner of today’s semifinal between Ridgewood and Prosser.
Wheaton Warrenville South 10, Kaneland 2: At Maple Park, Ty Carlson, Dan Miller and Tyler Bellock contributed the lone hits for 12-17 Kaneland in its regular-season finale. The Knights trailed, 8-0, before rallying for both runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.