GENEVA – By the unwritten rule of common sense, chants highlighting an upstart athlete’s year in school subside once a player becomes an upperclassman.
If “SHE’S A JUNIOR” or “SHE’S A SENIOR” on the girls volleyball team, then she’s supposed to be on varsity and expected to excel.
While Geneva junior outside hitter Hannah Lanasa isn’t pining to be serenaded after key kills, she’s heard freshmen Ally Barrett and Grace Loberg receive their share of four-syllable love entering tonight’s Class 4A Geneva Sectional final against St. Charles North.
Tuesday’s six-kill effort in a semifinal sweep of top-seeded Glenbard West helped Lanasa speak for herself.
“I think I’ve gotten better this year,” she said. “I mean, I played with some of the people from last year, so it’s helped a little, but I think we’ve done a lot better this year, too.”
Geneva (28-9) stands the same distance from the program’s first sectional title as last season, when Glenbard West rallied for a three-game victory in the Larkin Sectional final.
Lanasa was a sophomore in her first varsity season then, and contributed nine kills and five blocks in the Vikings’ final match.
At the same time, Barrett and Loberg were earning whispers as promising and towering eighth-graders about to enter a system already teeming with young talent.
Only three Vikings seniors populate the 2013 team – setter Courtney Caruso, middle hitter Taylor Marmitt and reserve defensive specialist Hailee Hilmer.
Kylee Thompson, a sophomore, gives Caruso another solid hitting option beyond Barrett, Loberg and Lanasa.
“Hannah’s a great hitter,” Barrett said. “I feel like all of our hitters are really good, and we’re all really holding our spots and positions.
“We’re all just friends. We don’t really care about the age.”
Lanasa, who also is active in the back row, smacked seven kills in Geneva’s 25-22, 17-25, 26-24 home victory against North in a Sept. 24 Upstate Eight Conference River Division match. The Vikings handed the North Stars (30-5) their lone league loss of the season, which eventually forced a tie for the conference title between North and St. Charles East.
“We definitely didn’t come out mentally focused right away, and [Geneva] kind of had us on our heels from the beginning, and it took us a while to start catching up,” North senior outside hitter Taylor Krage said. “Then at that point, we were too far into the game. We couldn’t do much.”
With a core of hitters Vikings fans will be saluting for years to come, Geneva looks to sprint to an early advantage again, just as it did against Glenbard West.
Barrett, Loberg and Lanasa all collaborated on Tuesday’s hot start. The first two registered kills while Lanasa served an ace on the first three points of the match.
“Whoever we play, we’re going to put up a good fight,” Lanasa said.