Girls volleyball: Focus on blocking pays off for Geneva
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media September 11, 2012 9:12PM
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:44PM
Geneva’s girls volleyball team has been facing a load of big hitters so far this season, so one of the main focuses in practice of late has been on blocking.
Geneva coach KC Johnsen was beaming when talking about the fact his team had nine block kills in a dominant 25-16, 25-15 over its rivals in Upstate Eight River play Tuesday.
“It’s fun when you work on something and it turns out well,” Johnsen said. “It was just a fun match, great energy from the crowd. “
Batavia (9-7 overall, 0-2 UEC River) jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first game, only to see Geneva (6-4, 2-0) take advantage of some Bulldogs errors and use its own superior blocking and serving to come back and take a 17-10 lead. Two blocks from Renner Burns and a block and two kills from Taylor Marmitt and a Megan Bell ace helped build that lead.
Then at the end of the game, libero Kelly Dalheim took over. She served four straight aces to push the lead to 24-14, taking the air out of a lively Batavia crowd.
“Kelly played so well,” Marmitt said. “It was crazy. They almost shut down. If we were in that situation, we would have shut down, because you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. She was just on a roll.”
But Batavia jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second despite the tough ending to the first game. Geneva methodically wrested away the lead, 11-10, and never trailed again. But Johnsen never breathes easily in Batavia’s gym.
“I’ve been in this gym too many times where you thought you had them deflated, and you don’t,” Johnsen said. “Sure enough, they came out the start of the second game and jumped out ahead of us. I don’t think we’ll ever take anything too much for granted in this facility.”
Marmitt, who had four of Geneva’s nine blocks, had three of them late in the second to help put the match away. Some solid serving from Hannah Buck, who had 10 points to go with five kills, also helped.
“Some of those serves kept them out of system and didn’t allow them to get the ball to their big hitter (Kristin Koncelik, who led the team with nine kills),” Johnsen said. “It’s not quite as good as an ace, but it’s something we’ll take.”
Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne had an extended talk with her team after the disappointing loss, and pointed out that they faced a solid team.
“Geneva played really, really well tonight and they made us look bad,” Trippi-Payne said. “We know what we’re capable of doing. We obviously did not come out with the kind of confidence and determination that we needed to win.”