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Vikings, Saints seize momentum

SCHAUMBURG – The Geneva and St. Charles East boys volleyball teams fought on to live another day as play opened Monday at the IHSA Schaumburg Regional.

In the first regional quarterfinal of the day, Geneva (17-16) came out roaring in the first set, handing opponent Wheaton Academy (17-15) a sound 25-13 defeat. However, the momentum shifted heavily towards the Warriors in Set 2. Thanks to a consistent attack, Wheaton Academy stormed back in set 2, defeating Geneva, 25-11.

“We changed up the defense toward the end of [set 1]. [Geneva] was on a roll, and we weren't playing well. … We moved [the ball] around a little bit, and it really worked in our favor,” Warriors coach D.A. Nichols said.

After a series of timeouts with both teams trading the lead, Set 3 would ultimately fall in Genevaís favor, with the Vikings prevailing 25-19, and securing a match against Buffalo Grove in a regional semifinal at 5:30 p.m. today.

East will face the host Saxons in a 6:30 p.m. semifinal after sweeping Upstate Eight Conference River Division rival Elgin, 25-15, 25-18 in Monday's second quarterfinal.

“We've played Elgin a lot throughout the season, and I think both teams knew what [they] were getting into when we started," Saints coach Kate McCullagh said. "Hard work and practice have gotten us where we are."

Geneva, which shared the UEC River title with East and St. Charles North, can attest.

Nick Buseski (13 kills) and Chris Parrilli (10) paced Geneva's attack while David Franz led the team with 20 assists.

“We knew this would be a match of momentum, so we made sure we came out [in Set 3] and [gave] everything we had, and did the little things,” Parrilli said.

Geneva coach KC Johnsen lauded his team's effort, especially after the Warriors' second-set domination.

“I was happy with the way we were willing to compete and battle in the third set, especially when [Wheaton Academy] had so much more confidence. We stepped up and met that challenge," Johnsen said.

Even with the defeat, Nichols was proud of his squad and sees a bright future for the team, citing the return of 11 seniors next season.

“This will be a good experience [for us],” Nichols said.

In the next quarterfinal, East (24-12) and Elgin (7-29) squared off in fast-paced match, with the Saints ultimately sweeping the Maroons out of postseason play.

Elgin kept it close early in Set 1, only trailing, 11-7, at the first timeout. However, the Saints would turn up the intensity, and play tough defense to cruise to a 25-15 win.

The Saints had no shortage of help, getting contributions from a variety of players, including senior Joey Leaman, who paced his team with 12 digs.

“We've got a very strong front row," Leaman said. "We worked on getting good passes, so we could feed them and they could score points for us.”

The Saints' Tom Wolfsmith added 10 kills, while teammate Tom DeBruyne dished out 31 assists.

In Set 2, Elgin fought hard, but ultimately fell short.

Kyle Paquin led the Maroons with seven kills, while teammate Eric Hernandez had 12 assists in the match.

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