It was almost as if Grace Loberg and her Geneva teammates could picture the season flash before their eyes in one single match.
The flank of Vikings 6-footers, led by Loberg, began in overpowering fashion — then took a step back upon meeting resistance.
Geneva stumbled, but gathered itself Monday at Waubonsie Valley, willing a 25-20, 24-26, 25-23 Upstate Eight crossover win to end a mini two-game slide.
“We had to get over the losing,” said 6-2 sophomore Loberg, who had 13 kills and 17 digs. “It would have been nice had we won in two, but we’ll take three.”
As Geneva coach Annie Seitelman said best, “a win is a win.” And after losses last week to St. Charles East and Cary-Grove following a 16-2 start, the Vikings (17-4) were trying to right the ship.
“I think we were getting a little too comfortable. The toughest part of our season hadn’t come yet,” Loberg said. “When we played East, that was kind of a wakeup call.”
In Game 3, Geneva led 10-4 and 12-6, but Waubonsie (16-8) showed no quit, coming back to tie it 18-18 after a long rally ended in a Vikings error. Loberg answered with a cross-court blast from the left pin and Geneva maintained the lead the rest of the way — albeit with a margin never greater than three.
Finally, after Brooke Burling blocked a Loberg spike attempt and Geneva was called for a net violation to draw the Warriors within 24-23 Vikings sophomore Allyson Barrett buried her 10th kill to end it.
“We knew we wouldn’t give this one up,” Loberg said. “It’s an important part of our season.”
Burling had six kills and nine digs, Taylor Dunwell had eight kills and five blocks and Caroline Cordes four kills and five blocks for Waubonsie. Warriors coach Kristen Didier appreciated the no-quit of her girls, but also felt this was one for the taking.
“Geneva is a good team but we could have had that,” Didier said. “Good effort, but could have had more.”
Geneva and its three 6-footers presented a challenge for a shorter, albeit athletic Waubonsie team that caused some passive play at the net.
“We had a lot of great defensive plays and a lot of long rallies, there were just some moments where we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be,” Didier said. “Against a team like that with big hitters you have to put pressure on them defensively.”
Geneva controlled Game 1 after an early 6-0 run, but the second was a different story.
Waubonsie, picking up its block and digging out Geneva often — Sydney Slevin had 17 for the Warriors — pulled ahead 20-15. Geneva answered to tie it 20-20, and it was touch-and-go after that. A Loberg kill was followed by a Cordes spike and a Geneva error at game point.
Geneva carried that late momentum into the third game. Mikayla Lanasa had 26 assists and Kyley Thompson 10 kills for the Vikings.
“When we’re not communicating and talking on our side that’s when we have breakdowns,” Seitelman said. “That’s what we’re still learning is finding that consistency.”