Geneva gets second chance at Glenbard West

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There may have been some growing pains, but K.C. Johnsen’s young Geneva volleyball team has come along much as he thought it would.

The Vikings, who have only three seniors on a roster that includes a pair of 6-foot-2 freshmen hitters in Grace Loberg and Ally Barrett and three sophomores, last week won the program’s 10th regional title in the past 14 years.

The host Vikings (27-9) meet top-seeded Glenbard West (32-3) at 6 p.m. in Tuesday’s opening semifinal of the Class 4A Geneva Sectional.

“There’s always something you want to get better at, but we’re at the point in the year where there’s not a lot of time left. We just have to go out and do our best,” Johnsen said.

His team did just that Thursday, living up to its fourth seed by edging No. 5 Batavia for the Addison Trail Regional crown in three tough sets 20-25, 25-22, 25-20. It avenged a regular-season loss to the Bulldogs, who tied Geneva for third place in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.

League co-champs St. Charles East and St. Charles North, seeded second and third, respectively, in the sectional, will meet in Tuesday’s second semifinal at 7 p.m. The winners advance to Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship match.

The Vikings are one of three area teams still alive in the playoffs. Coach Kristen Stuart’s fourth-seeded Waubonsie Valley (30-7) squad, which set a school single-season record for wins, meets top-seed Benet (32-5) at 6 p.m. in the Plainfield South Sectional. That match will be followed by No. 2 Naperville North (33-4) and No. 3 Plainfield North (33-4).

In Class 1A, Newark travels to Harvest Christian Academy in Elgin and meets the hosts in the second of two semifinals at 7 p.m.

“She has improved a tremendous amount, getting used to the pace of the game at a high level,” Johnsen said of Loberg, who leads the team with 261 kills. “She learns something almost every day.

“And even though we lost 10 seniors, we had five back who played a lot, including middles Taylor Marmitt (6-1) and Maddie Courter (6-0), outside Hannah Lanasa (5-10) as well as (senior) Courtney Caruso, who set a lot, and (junior defensive specialist/libero) Kelsey Wicinski. We always thought we had a chance to do very well.”

In an early season meeting for the title at the Glenbard West Tournament, Geneva fell in three sets, losing the final 32-30.

“We feel if we can bring our A game, we can be competitive and be successful,” Johnsen said.

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