The Lady Leafs’ volleyball team won a regional title for the first time since 2003 and competed in the IVC sectional semifinal game.

The Lady Leafs’ volleyball team won a regional title for the first time since 2003 and competed in the IVC sectional semifinal game.

Class 3A Princeton Regional

Geneseo coach Casey Komel wanted the Lady Leafs to not get too high or too low during the regional championship game.

“We needed to be a six,” Komel said. “We need to stay relaxed enough to play, but not so relaxed that we are playing sloppy,” Komel said. “Maddi (Barickman) is No. 6 and she kept us at a six all night.”

Anytime Mendota made a run Maddi Barickman was there to keep Geneseo in control in Princeton on Oct. 25.

The Lady Leafs won the regional title 25-13, 25-20 over Mendota, and Maddi Barickman finished with 23 assists, two digs, a block, a kill and an ace.

“I had the mindset going in that there was nothing to lose,” Maddi Barickman said. “This was our time. I feel like getting this win was really big for us going forward.”

The win was Geneseo’s first regional title since 2003 when Geneseo defeated Moline 34-32, 25-22.

After having jitters in the semifinal game, Geneseo never looked out of control during the championship game.

Abbi Barickman gave Geneseo a kill to expand Geneseo’s lead to 11-6, and another kill to push the lead to 16-10.

Abbi Barickman finished with 12 kills, three digs and a block.

The Leafs’ Alex Horne built on the lead with a block to make it 17-10, and Cora Varland put away a shot to make the advantage 21-11.

Horne finished with four kills and three blocks, and Varland finished with two kills, three digs and a block.

Abbi Barickman continued to dominate smashing home a kill to seal the first set 25-13.

“It was really important for us to come out strong in the first set,” Maggi Weller said. “We just continued to connect through the entire game.”

Geneseo started the second set strong leading 7-1 after a Varland kill, but Mendota made a run to close the gap at 12-11.

Hannah Himmelman came through with a kill to make Geneseo’s advantage comfortable again at 21-18 and the Lady Leafs never looked back.

A senior, Himmelman finished with seven kills, two digs and a block, and Elli Weller finished with 16 digs.

Emily Pobanz finished with four kills and two digs, Keeli Frerichs tallied four digs and two aces and Rachel Daniels finished with three digs.

After reaching a program record 22 wins in the regional semifinal, Komel believed the team had already proved they had what it took to win the title.

“Getting to 22nd wins and making it to the regional championship that was the hard part,” Komel said. “This was getting the icing on the cake. That’s been our theme the last few nights, and that makes the 23rd win very, very sweet.”

Illinois Valley Central Sectional

After a tight first set, if it seemed like Morton played like a different team in the second set — it’s because they did.

The Potters made an adjustment the Lady Leafs hadn’t anticipated in the Class 3A Sectional semifinal and won the game 25-21, 25-13 on Oct. 29.

“Had we seen the lineup we had prepared for we would have been able to handle it a little bit better and made more of a game out of it,” Komel said.

Geneseo started the game playing very timid, but a block from Horne jump-started a Lady Leafs run closing the gap to 14-12.

“Our hustle on defense changed things,” Maddi Barickman said. “We were getting balls up and controlling things with our hits. We were getting a lot more blocks. It really helped us. The turning point was Alex’s block. It really got us going.”

After Morton took a 20-14 lead, Abbi Barickman put away a kill a few plays later and Maggi Weller fired an ace.

Geneseo force Morton to take a timeout after the lead shrank to 23-18.

Himmelman put away a kill to continue the rally at 24-19.

However, Morton was able to close out the first set 25-21.

“I think had we not had that, we would have been able to play with that fire we had at the end of the first set, it would have been a different ball game,” Komel said.

Morton had all the answers in the second set taking an 8-2 lead.

Geneseo was able to close the lead to 10-7, but Morton wasn’t hammering away at Geneseo, but instead lobbing shots over the Lady Leafs at the net.

Morton went on a 5-1 run and pushed the lead to 22-12 before closing out the set 25-13.

“I think this achievement and experience is going to push us, even more, going forward,” Maddi Barickman said.

“We can handle it better next year,” Komel said. “This is uncharted territory for Geneseo volleyball.”