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Setters stir versatile Geneva volleyball's attack

Geneva stormed to the program’s first girls volleyball sectional title behind an attack that came from all angles.

Grace Loberg smacked 14 kills in Thursday’s Class 4A Geneva Sectional final victory against St. Charles North, and Ally Barrett and Hannah Lanasa weren’t far behind with nine apiece.

It’s been that way for much of the Vikings’ breakthrough postseason, which continues with tonight’s St. Charles East Supersectional against New Trier. With Kyley Thompson also getting in on the act, having such a stable of hitters makes it easy for coach KC Johnsen to embrace a 6-2 alignment under most circumstances.

“As much as I like one setter,” Johnsen said, “it’s hard to not let all four of those hitters play.”

Setters Courtney Caruso (senior) and Megan Cameron (junior) enjoy orchestrating the offense together, and why not?

None of Geneva’s primary four hitters stands shorter than 5-foot-10. Barrett and Loberg, both standout freshmen, are fittingly 6-2.

“Oh, we’re so spoiled,” Caruso said. “It is just the best setting everyone. I can just set them any ball, and I know they’ll take care of it. If they make one mistake, they know that they just have to get the next one. They’re amazing. They’re incredible to play with.”

Johnsen salutes Caruso as “about as fierce a competitor as we’ve had” while calling Cameron “very athletic and very smart.”

Sometimes, though, simply lofting the ball to the streaking player helps alleviate pressure.

With the third game of the North match tied at 20, Loberg collected three kills around a pair of North Stars errors.

“I love being set, but it’s also great to switch it around each time,” Loberg said. “But whatever we can do to get a point, that works.”

Geneva needs 50 more points to advance to the state semifinals at Illinois State’s Redbird Arena in Normal next weekend. New Trier, last year’s state runner-up, has swept each of its four postseason matches to date.

With no recent history against the Trevians to rely on, Geneva knows the best bet is focusing on itself.

“It’s just who you play with and being comfortable with each other,” Caruso said.

Then settling in as the offense takes turns challenging the opposition.

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