GENEVA – It didn’t seem that the St. Charles North boys volleyball team could get any louder than it was before Wednesday night’s Geneva Regional championship match began.
The North Stars were chanting and shouting, screaming and yelling, whooping and hollering, creating such a noise level that it’s unknown whether or not they heard their own names during the team introductions.
Yet when St. Charles North senior Jonathan Orech tipped the ball for the match-winning point in the second game, the notion that the North Stars couldn’t get louder was quickly dispelled. The North Stars defeated Geneva, 25-13, 25-18 in two games to accomplish a program first.
For the North Stars, it was the first time in school history the team captured both a conference championship and a regional championship in the same season.
“Last year, we walked away not accomplishing either one of those goals,” North coach Todd Weimer said. “We were so sick to our stomachs and very disheartened. We had a great season, but we just couldn’t finish it. And I think that’s been in the mind of these guys for a long time. A year is a long time.
“I’m very proud of these guys. Twelve seniors, two juniors. Very proud of these guys.”
North (28-6) was in control from the first serve, and it rarely let up. The first game was over in a hurry, and the North Stars seemed to get better as the game went on, with their biggest lead coming on the game’s final point.
The second match wasn’t much different, as Geneva couldn’t get within fewer than five points after North went up 9-4. The North Stars swept Geneva in St. Charles earlier this month en route to the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title.
“We knew Geneva; they were really good at coming back if they’re down by a lot because they did it [Tuesday],” Orech said. “We knew we had to never let up and keep pushing through the whole match. We did that. We did exactly that.”
Orech racked up five kills in the match, but it was teammate Kevin Beach who led all players with nine. Other leaders for the North Stars included Pat Misiewicz, who totaled 23 assists, and Ryan Dal Degan, who recorded eight digs.
From beginning to end, the North Stars had an unending supply of energy, displayed in shouts, smiles and fist pumps. And it showed during the course of play, as well, as spikes were big, dives were all out and one player even bowled over a garbage can – sending Gatorade cups everywhere – to reach a ball.
“We knew Geneva was a really loud team,” Orech said. “We were here [Tuesday] and they had a bunch of fans, so we knew we had to come out with a bunch of energy. That’s one of our strongest assets is coming out with lots of energy and being loud and just not letting the other team get a second in to get any points.”
Geneva (21-12) eclipsed 20 victories for the first time in the program’s three seasons, finished, a fact that made coach K.C. Johnsen proud.
“Twenty-one wins is pretty good for a program that’s basically had two full seasons now,” Johnsen said. “We were pretty happy with that match [Tuesday] night against a very capable Addison Trail team that had actually defeated North earlier in the season. ... We’re playing with some of the better programs around. I think being a little bit new, we’re still a little inconsistent once in a while. That shows up, especially against a quality team like North.”
Mason Stierwalt smacked six kills for Geneva, while Will Hince and Nathan Jesko both had four assists.
Next up for the North Stars is Friday’s Bartlett Sectional semifinal against Wheaton North. The senior-laden North Stars know games will get tougher from here on out, but they’re happy to take on those challenges.
“From here on out, every match is going to get harder and harder,” Orech said. “We have to work harder and be more focused and hit harder and jump higher every time. We can’t let up from this point out.”