February 25, 2024
Sports - Kane County

Sports - Kane County

Geneva girls volleyball ‘pumped up right from the start’ against St. Charles East

GENEVA – Several Geneva girls volleyball players addressed a gathering of Girl Scouts after Tuesday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division match against St. Charles East.

Vikings junior middle blocker Alex Mullen described the girls’ queries as “more neutral, younger questions.” How long have you been playing? Why does one player wear a different colored jersey than the rest of her teammates?

Geneva explained the libero position about as fluidly as it handled East but did not dabble in discussing the difference-maker behind its 25-16, 25-13 sweep. If there were a merit badge for aggressive play, the Vikings certainly would have earned it.

“Just wanting to kind of almost be angry and get energetic,” Mullen said. “Be pumped up right from the start of the match.”

A 5-1 lead in the opening set helped vault the Vikings (16-2, 3-1 UEC River), who gained early control of an overflow crowd that featured vocal backing for both sides.

Setter Mikayla Lanasa collected 29 assists, distributing the ball to a variety of Vikings’ weapons. Junior hitters Grace Loberg (nine kills), Ally Barrett (six kills) and Kyley Thompson (four kills) sparked the attack, but Lanasa also spread the ball elsewhere on the floor.

“We had a lot of opportunities for the middles to get so many kills,” Loberg said. “We just got perfect set-ups for bump, set, spike, every single time, so that helped a lot.”

Loberg called herself “back to 100 percent” after recently returning to the lineup full-time after a bout with mononucleosis.

The Saints (12-5, 3-1) hope junior outside hitter Kyla Augustine can give herself the same classification soon. East’s leading scorer missed the match with a sprained right ankle she sustained during a club soccer match on Sunday. East coach Jennie Kull dubbed Augustine’s absence “a huge, huge change.”

Kull promoted and started junior varsity player Hannah Spicer against the Vikings, but the team struggled to build consistent offense. Four Saints smacked two kills apiece. Kyra Slavik had five assists.

“You know what, we just didn’t execute tonight,” Kull said. “We just didn’t execute. And I get [that] there’s no excuses. Geneva played very well. They’re reloaded. They’re ready to go. They were consistent. They did what they were doing. And we just made errors. We just made errors.”

Kull, whose daughter, junior setter Morgan Kull, plays on the same club soccer team with Augustine, was not upset about the extracurricular injury.

“There’s more to life than [girls volleyball],” she said. “There’s bigger things that happen.”

Still, Jennie Kull repeated that the loss was “bittersweet” a few times after the game.

There’s plenty of club volleyball overlap for both sides, and Geneva happily wrestled away bragging rights after the Saints’ recent stranglehold on the series.

“Today, we were not supposed to look at East, smile at East,” Loberg said. “Because the games in past seasons, we would run over and hug them and cheer with them. But this year we knew we wanted what we wanted, so we came with a straight face and saved the hugging for the end.”

Kevin Druley

Kevin Druley for Shaw Local News Network

Kevin Druley is a freelance writer for Shaw Local News Network who covered sports for the Kane County Chronicle from 2008-16