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Geneva girls volleyball seizes first sectional

Geneva players hold up their IHSA class 4A sectional trophy Thursday after defeating St. Charles North at Geneva High School.
Geneva players hold up their IHSA class 4A sectional trophy Thursday after defeating St. Charles North at Geneva High School.

GENEVA – That old saying about those who don’t know history being doomed to repeat it no longer bedevils the Geneva girls volleyball program.

Every Viking realized the school lacked a sectional title entering the season.

Every Viking yelled, jumped and mugged for photos when Thursday’s 21-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory against St. Charles North changed that, securing the Class 4A Geneva Sectional championship for the hosts.

Geneva (29-9) advanced to Saturday’s St. Charles East Supersectional against New Trier, where it hopes to again be in position to scream without any bad taste in players’ mouths. Close calls such as a three-game sectional final loss to Glenbard West in 2012 are history, too.

“It’s so amazing. Last year, we were right there. Three games, and we lost in the end,” Vikings senior setter Courtney Caruso said. “This is just the most incredible feeling. I’m just so, so happy.”

North (30-6) looked like it would be the celebrating side in the early going, building an 8-1 lead in the opening game. The Vikings committed four errors on the North Stars’ first seven points and looked shaky when they did deposit the ball over the net.

North’s Sophia DuVall smacked a free ball to the ground for a 3-0 lead that sparked North’s student section into an even deeper frenzy. Eventually, the Vikings shifted the momentum by tuning out that group and the North Stars, who they had defeated in three games in September, handing North its lone Upstate Eight Conference River Division

“We just really have confidence in ourselves,” Caruso said. “We wanted to play aggressive but kept focus more on our side of the court more than look at the other team and know what they were doing. Just really keep picking each other up. If we made one mistake, we had to get out of it right away and try to keep going.”

Behind Northern Illinois-bound senior outside hitter Taylor Krage (nine kills), the North Stars prevailed in a tight Game 1.

Game 2 was tied as late as 22-all before the two players with the least grasp of Geneva’s postseason struggles stepped up again.

Freshmen Grace Loberg (14 kills) and Ally Barrett sandwiched kills around a North Stars net violation to close the game and tie the match. Barrett – who joined Hannah Lanasa with nine kills to help thwart North’s block – collected the first two kills of Game 3. Loberg delivered the final three before a North hitting error ended the match, sending the freshmen into the wild fray.

“At the start of the season, they had a lot of catching up to do with the pace of the game, and you couldn’t ask them to do it much better than they’re doing,” Vikings coach KC Johnsen said.

North coach Lindsey Hawkins said it would be difficult to close the book on a season that saw spirited play from veterans such as libero Alex Seavey and setter Sydney Wohlert, but added that the group’s legacy “is going to carry on forever.”

“We were always proud of this team for being resilient and never dying, and we definitely weren’t going to let them roll over us in the third game,” Krage said. “We really were going to fight all the way to the end.”

Caruso (29 assists), Kelsey Wicinski (28 digs) and Taylor Marmitt (seven blocks) also shined for Geneva.

“Our team is beyond happy to be moving on,” Loberg said.

IHSA Class 4A Geneva Sectional

Tuesday’s semifinals

(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)

Thursday’s final

(4) Geneva def. (2) St. Charles North, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22

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