West Chicago edges out Geneva
Updated: October 27, 2011 7:44PM
Two in a row, in more ways than one, for West Chicago senior Julia Conard.
Needing a point to knock off No. 4-seed Geneva in Thursday night’s IHSA Class 4A Geneva Regional final, Conard got blocked on her first kill attempt.
Seconds later, her second chance found ground, giving No. 5-seed West Chicago a 25-13, 25-23 victory and its second straight regional title.
“After the first time I got blocked I wanted to come back even stronger,” said Illinois-recruit Conard, who finished with eight kills, 10 digs and two aces. “I was kind of mad. It was a great ball and a great set. It’s exciting.”
The Wildcats (25-12) are on a late season roll and wasted little time stunning the host Vikings (24-13).
Geneva recorded just one of its 13 first-game points via offensive system, and looked out of sorts as West Chicago came out crisp and energetic.
“It was no way to start the regional championship,” Vikings’ coach KC Johnsen said. “We knew they were a very good team. I almost expected three games like that last one.”
The second game was a thriller with the Wildcats jumping out to an 8-4 lead before Geneva finally woke up and pulled even.
The Vikings largest lead was 20-18, but they could never sustain a run with uncharacteristic bad passing and easy sideouts.
“It sure felt like we were going to win,” Johnsen said. “We just let those last few points get away.”
Melissa Hanika had three kills and Jess Wicinski two kills for Geneva, but the Wildcats’ block proved to be tough to overcome in both games.
Mix in aces by Conard and libero Kayla Katarzynski late in the second game and West Chicago would not let the win slip away.
Middle hitter Andrea Skipor had two of her five kills right before Conard’s kill to end the match.
West Chicago setter Payton Bayless recorded 16 assists and Mary Kate Katarzynski added five kills and eight assists.
The Wildcats now head to the St. Charles East Sectional to face No. 1-seed York on Nov. 1, although their late season win streak has them feeling good about their chances.
“I definitely think we’re peaking at the right time,” Conard said. “Going into sectionals right now we have a great confidence, but it doesn’t mean we underestimate anybody. We still have to come in hard each match.”