Geneseo Leafs sweep UTHS in volleyball

by Claudia Loucks correspondent
Junior Hannah Copeland in action at the GHS volleyball season opener against United Township in Geneseo.

Geneseo Varsity Volleyball Coach Casey Komel described the team’s season opener against United Township High School as “a great start and I hope we can keep the momentum rolling all season!”

The result of the 2-game contest with Geneseo 2 and UTHS 0, was held at Geneseo, with the first match at 25-13 and the second at 25-8.

GHS junior Hannah Copeland had an outstanding performance with 2 kills and 2 blocks. Other players contributing to the win were Abbi Barickman with 3 kills; Addie Dunker with 2 aces; Maddi Barickman with 6 digs, Maggi Weller with 5 digs and Taylor DeSplinter had 5 digs; Emma Frank had 2 blocks, Maddi Barickman and Cadence Talbert each added 1 block.

“It was awesome to get this team on the court together,” Komel said. “It’s been a long time of anticipating this season and to have the first game under our belts feels amazing.”

Coach Komel cited the “greatest strength” of her team is the number of returning starters…”That makes things just a little easier since there are so many who are back who already know how to play at the pace of a varsity game. Sometimes that’s a learning curve when you have a lot of girls who haven’t yet played a varsity match.”

When asked about weakness in the Leafs, Komel said figuring out the “right” lineup…”I think all coaches are working through that. I hope I’m not the only who felt like we had no time to really dig deep into some of the things we normally do at the beginning of a season. But the team handled the first game really well and almost all players got to see a few points throughout the game, so that helps to see people perform against an opponent they don’t get to see every day in the gym.”

COACH KOMEL ABOUT SPRING VOLLEYBALL AND THE GHS TEAM

Varsity Coach Casey Komel is at the helm of 24 varsity athletes who are committed to spring volleyball.

When asked about volleyball in the spring and not having had a season last fall, Coach Komel said, “This is definitely weird. I’m usually preparing to meet with next year’s team to discuss the summer opportunities around this time. It’s weird that we will go spring-summer-fall this year and I’m hoping that all of our players and coaches are still passionate in the fall.”

She said, “The volleyball players seem to be excited to be in the gym, so this weird timing and the amount of overlap, while still very stressful for everyone, is okay for the .athletes. The biggest concern I have is with the overlap, it is minimizing the opportunity for athletes to rest before competing.”

The biggest change for student-athletes has been wearing masks and players are required to wear them the entire practice, which has been the rule since summer.

“We have also been sanitizing balls for practice due to Covid and doing our best to maintain 6-ft. distance when not physically playing,” Komel said. “The other factor we have had to adjust to is the spring weather. Just like a normal year, we are the only indoor sport in-season right now, but the spring has a lot more inclement weather than the fall. The weather could force the outdoor teams to be indoors into the space we typically use. Thankfully, the coaches are all able to communicate with one another and determine the best plan of action. I’m grateful for that!”

Coach Komel said the players have been reminded that they could have had zero time in the gym, so the fact that we are in a gym and scheduled to play other teams is a huge win…”I think most, if not all of the layers have bought into that mindset as well. Of course we also want to be competitive, but at the end of the day, we are just blessed to have a season with this team.”

In summarizing, Komel said this team has really set the bar for GHS volleyball. “We are very fortunate that we have most of our starters from last year returning, which can also put a target on our backs. The team is ready for any challenge they are presented with, and we hope all of those challenges come in the form of an opponent, not any other forces at play this year such as quarantining, injuries, etc.”

After losing in the Regional championship, I know this group of returners was ready to come back and work hard to make it even further into the playoffs. Of course, we don’t get playoffs this year, but this year’s team will show their strength and determination every day.”