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Geneva, Batavia volleyball advance to regional final

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ADDISON – Showing respect for their longtime rivals and the seeding at the 4A Addison Trail Regional, Geneva girls volleyball players offered conditional praise for Batavia between semifinals Tuesday night.

As the Vikings cooled off from a 25-19, 25-16 sweep of Addison Trail, the Bulldogs warmed up for a match – and presumable victory – against Elk Grove.

The complimentary words of Geneva junior defensive specialist Camille Kolquist and freshman outside hitter Grace Loberg suddenly sounded a little less evergreen after Batavia stumbled in the opening game against the Grenadiers. Then Batavia rebounded for a 21-25, 25-14, 25-12 win, and the adulation entering Thursday’s regional final rematch was back on.

“Batavia, they’re just all around really solid, and it’s going to be a really good game,” Kolquist said. “I think it should be close, but we’re ready to play.”

“We’re excited to have another chance to play them,” added Loberg. “We know we’re going to come out stronger and harder.”

Visiting the Vikings in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play Sept. 17, the Bulldogs rallied for a 20-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory. It marked the first time Batavia seniors Audrey Faulhaber, Heather Meyer and Shea Thayer had defeated Geneva in their three-year varsity careers.

Batavia (20-16) relishes the chance to play Geneva (26-9) again at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Bulldogs are especially gratified to know they’re familiar with the Vikings. There was very much an early feeling-out process against Elk Grove (16-19), but the Bulldogs exhaled once they adjusted to the Grenadiers’ block and began mixing up their shots.

“We are a team where we will do really good for a couple points and then struggle for a couple, and then do really good for a couple,” said Meyer, who smacked 18 kills. “But I think tonight we executed a lot better than we have in the past, and I think that helped us a lot, kind of getting those big runs and pushing forward.”

Batavia used a 9-1 run midway through the second game to take a 21-12 lead. In Game 3, the Bulldogs yielded the first point, then scored nine straight. Faulhaber (32 assists) paced an attack that also included Thayer (seven kills, seven blocks). Heidi Hoffman served four aces.

Geneva credited Kolquist’s lengthy service run in Game 2 against Addison Trail (13-24) with assuring one more long bus ride. She was at the helm of an 8-0 spurt that reversed an early deficit and helped the Vikings close the match.

“Because we had missed a couple [of serves] that game, I just had to go in and trust the hitters on our team to put them down and just focus on getting my serve in,” Kolquist said.

The run included a handful of long rallies, which kept players from both sides on their toes.

While Addison Trail’s public address announcer frequently called on the crowd to holler more support between points, players didn’t need such provocation thanks to the natural flow of the match.

“You just have to keep going and keep pushing,” Loberg said. “Get up to block as hard as you can, hit the ball as hard as you can.”

Loberg (12 kills) and Ally Barrett (five) led Geneva’s offense. Kelsey Wicinski added 15 digs, while Courtney Caruso had 14 assists.

Along with her teammates, Meyer – who admitted she only recently had heard of Elk Grove – knows those players and their skill sets well. All the better for when the fourth-seeded Vikings and fifth-seeded Bulldogs renew acquaintances.

“Why not? Right? That’s what the playoffs are all about,” Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. “I mean, we’re even teams, really. The seeds are about even. We beat them the first time, but it was close. We tied in conference. So we’re even. It’ll be a good match.”

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