GENEVA – A handful of public address announcements reminded girls volleyball fans that top-seeded Glenbard West – not the 4A Geneva Sectional hosts – played as the home team Tuesday.
As the Vikings rolled to a 25-20, 25-21 sweep, the crowd didn’t have to look at the scoreboard to sense which team was in control.
Outpowering and overwhelming a team it had pushed to three games in tournament play earlier this season, fourth-seeded Geneva (28-9) handled the Hilltoppers from the start.
“We just kind of played like we had nothing to lose, and we just did really well,” Vikings freshman right-side/outside hitter Ally Barrett said.
Barrett, a freshman, had six kills to round out a balanced attack that included classmate Grace Loberg (nine kills) and junior Hannah Lanasa (eight).
Glenbard West (34-4) figured it would have an answer with its own young gun, but Barrett (four blocks) and senior middle Taylor Marmitt (three) largely held Hilltoppers sophomore outside hitter Natalie Schilling in check.
Geneva admittedly felt its energy waver at the beginning of the second game, but a combination of Vikings kills and Hilltoppers errors allowed the Vikings to pull away. Glenbard West’s most visible gaffes – a would-be dig that immediately crashed down after hitting the basketball hoop overhead and a backward set to a vacant spot – were hardly the stuff of the teams’ most recent meeting.
In September, the Hilltoppers edged the Vikings for the Glenbard West Invitational title with a 32-30 victory in Game 3.
“It’s been our energy and really wanting to win this year,” Lanasa said. “I think it just really pushed us to win it.”
It was a different story between the teams last fall. Entering 2012, Glenbard West had not captured a regional title since 1985. Two matches after taking care of that drought, it rallied for a 25-27, 27-25, 25-21 victory against Geneva in the Larkin Sectional final.
Geneva junior libero Kelsey Wicinski (20 digs) recalled a disjointed effort that night. On Tuesday, she described the Vikings as “just one, big team.”
Senior Courtney Caruso added 17 assists for Geneva, which will play for the program’s first sectional championship Thursday against St. Charles North.
“We’ve just got to be consistent,” Vikings coach KC Johnsen said. “We have our moments where we’re on, we have our moments when we’re off. We’ve just got to be consistent in between and we can play with all those people.”
With a three-game victory against the North Stars already under their belt, the Vikings also are eager to highlight a home-court advantage.
Geneva’s student section showed nearly as much nerve as the Vikings, chanting “OVER-RATED” when Geneva held a 24-19 lead in Game 1. The group added the “I believe that we will win chant” with Geneva ahead, 17-14, in Game 2. Glenbard West closed to within one point, but a Lanasa kill and a Hilltoppers hitting error quickly created familiar breathing room.