GENEVA – St. Charles North girls volleyball players welcomed an onrushing student section Tuesday night.
Charged by the North Stars’ 25-19, 25-22 sweep of St. Charles East in a Class 4A Geneva Sectional semifinal, the “Blue Fan Group” stormed the court, and North’s players held their ground.
North showed similar poise throughout the night, pouncing on the Saints as East continually kept itself down with 10 service errors. North (30-5) seized control early in both games against East (31-7) and will look to duplicate that intensity in Thursday’s sectional final against host Geneva.
“In a way, it kind of helps knowing everyone on the other side of the net,” North senior outside hitter Taylor Krage said, “but in a way it doesn’t, because sometimes you play too much into what you think each girl is going to do and their tendencies when really, you’ve just got to go out and play.”
The Vikings handed the North Stars their lone Upstate Eight Conference River Division loss of the season, a three-game victory that ultimately created a shared title between North and East.
North defeated visiting East, 25-17, 23-25, 25-22 on Sept. 17, one week before the Geneva loss. That victory against the Saints marked the first win for North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins – the former Lindsey Linkimer – against her alma mater since joining the program in 2009.
Tuesday’s meeting was hardly the first postseason encounter between the schools, and the sight of Saints and North Stars socializing after the match was a common one after the North students dispersed.
“Honestly, a game can’t ruin a friendship,” East senior outside hitter Dana Voltolina said. “I love my team, I loved this season, but one game doesn’t decide our life.”
Veteran Saints coach Jennie Kull succintly assessed what she thought turned the latest North-East clash.
“We live and die by the serve, and tonight we died by it. That’s the bottom line,” Kull said. “That’s what kept us in so many games, and today, it took us out of the game. We didn’t execute tonight. We didn’t play well, unfortunately. I think that if we would have executed the [game plan] that we would have been able to be more successful.”
East closed to within 15-13 in the second game, but followed up with a service error, one of four in the game. The same thing happened one point after the Saints trailed, 21-20.
North’s sister tandem of Taylor Krage (six kills) and her younger sibling, sophomore Daley (five kills), often subdued the Saints when there weren’t self-inflicted wounds.
Taylor Krage handcuffed East’s Chloe Rojas (eight digs) with the match-clinching kill. In the first Genva match, Taylor Krage smacked 16 kills while Daley added six.
“It’s a magical connection out there between them,” Hawkins said. “Sometimes, I get goosebumps when I see them talking to each other, giving each other tips on what to be doing, what shots are open. Daley’s really thrived having her sister, and she’s learned a lot from her, and so it’s just a special bond I don’t think a lot of people can understand. And it’s really helped our team a lot this year.”
Voltolina and Megan Schildmeyer contributed seven kills apiece for East, which was bidding to return to its home floor for supersectionals on Saturday. Carly Jimenez had 21 assists while Anne Hughes added 11 digs.
Defensive specialist Alex Seavey and setter Sydney Wohlert excelled in moving the ball to North’s hitters. Communication issues plagued the North Stars against the Vikings in September.
“That sort of thing can happen against any team,” Taylor Krage said. “It wasn’t because we were playing them, per se, it was us coming out not focused. So we’re definitely coming into Thursday ready to play.”
IHSA Class 4A Geneva Sectional
(4) Geneva def. (1) Glenbard West, 2-0 (25-20, 25-21)
(2) St. Charles North def. (3) St. Charles East, 2-0 (25-19, 25-22)
(4) Geneva vs. (2) St. Charles North, 7 p.m.