GENEVA – Delirious shouting, hugging and crying ensued Tuesday night after Batavia earned its first girls volleyball victory against Geneva since 2010.
Perhaps one of the few sets of dry eyes in the wake of the Bulldogs’ 20-25, 25-22, 25-22 win belonged to the husband of Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne, who rescheduled an optometrist appointment to be there.
Batavia trailed its Upstate Eight Conference River Division rival as late as 16-13 in Game 3 before staging one final rally. As the Bulldogs huddled together after each point – down 16-14, down 16-15, tied at 16, and then ahead by as much as 19-16 – the message had long since taken over.
“Just know that you’re going to fix it, whatever mistake you did. Or if you get the point, just know that you can do it again,” senior outside hitter Shea Stanley said. “You need to persevere the whole time. That’s been our goal since Day 1, just to persevere. That’s our team goal, and just push through everything, no matter who we’re playing.”
Batavia (8-9, 1-1 UEC River) always totes extra emotion into its meetings with Geneva (8-4, 1-1), and vice-versa.
This time, the Vikings brought their highly touted younger talent, too. Grace Loberg, a 6-foot-2 freshman outside hitter, had 21 digs and 21 kills in one of the night’s many outstanding individual performances.
“That’s the highest [kills total] she’s got so far,” Geneva coach KC Johnsen said. “I bet it won’t be the highest she’ll ever have.”
Batavia’s ability to stand up to Loberg, sophomore Kyley Thompson (eight kills) and the rest of Geneva’s attack in Game 2 turned the tide. The Bulldogs, who grabbed their first lead of the game at 9-8, started toward that proposition by serving the Vikings out of system.
Geneva junior libero Kelsey Wicinski contributed 48 digs – believed to be a school record – but she also handled her share of second hits.
That left Batavia senior Shea Thayer (career-high seven blocks) waiting at the net with added anticipation alongside Maddy Astling and Jancy Lundberg, who contributed five blocks apiece.
“It’s watching the outside hitter and knowing where she hits and just keeping that press up and holding strong,” said Astling, a sophomore middle hitter who also offered some levity.
Where seniors Audrey Faulhaber (19 assists, 12 digs), Heather Meyer (nine kills) and Thayer never had defeated Geneva in their three-year varsity careers, Astling improved to 2-0 lifetime against Geneva. She and Batavia’s freshman “A” team were victorious in 2012.
“Yeah,” Astling said, “I guess I’m used to it.”
Trippi-Payne, who wore a “Pack the Place” T-shirt from Batavia and Geneva’s 2010 regular season game to school Tuesday – the Bulldogs also defeated Geneva in regional play that fall – was equally keen on the quickness of the Vikings’ attack.
She devoted most of Monday’s practice to defense and getting younger players up to speed with new rotations as Batavia deals with injuries. Sophomore defensive specialist Katelynn Fegan hadn’t played the right-back spot until this week.
As the teams traded rallies and crowd momentum, it was easy to simply sit back and watch. Stanley (11 kills) paced Batavia’s offense, but was routinely challenged by Geneva’s Maddie Courter (seven blocks). Courtney Caruso dished 21 assists for Geneva, but Bulldogs libero Maddie Jaudon (career-high 18 digs) often was sprawling on the other end.
“It’s just a great atmosphere. It was a fun match. It was a shame we had to lose,” Johnsen said. “We played hard, they played hard. We made some great plays. They made some great plays. So I don’t know. It’s a little early in the year – I guess it’s not too early anymore. We’re getting better. That’s what I’m excited about.”
The Bulldogs feel the same way about themselves.
“I’ve always said we have a lot of kids that have a lot of ability and can play different positions, and we were able to do that tonight,” Trippi-Payne said.