JEFFERSON - Coaches constantly talk about how volleyball is a game of momentum. Geneva and Lakeview were extreme examples of how that can be true in a Division II sectional championship at Falcon Gymnasium on Thursday.
The fortunes of both teams essentially reversed on just a couple of points in the Eagles' thrilling 14-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 16-14 victory.
Fourth-seeded Geneva will face second-seeded Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in a district semifinal Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The season ended for the Bulldogs (20-4).
After rallying from a 10-5 deficit to start the third game, Geneva (18-4) took its first lead at 22-21 on a kill from Emily Ball. After a Lauren Casassa kill knotted the score at 23-23 for the Bulldogs, the bottom fell out.
Geneva took the lead back, 24-23, after a Lakeview spike sailed long, and Megan Cool sent the Eagles' confidence soaring with a kill to end the game.
"It's hard because (Lakeview coach) Scott (Taylor) is a friend," Geneva coach Annah Haeseler said. "I have a good relationship with him. We always battle at the end. We scrimmage and we have dinner together after the scrimmage. Neither one of us wants to see the other team crumble.
"We both want to win. It's hard. You wish both teams well."
The Bulldogs' confidence was clearly cracked.
"We'd never been to a Game 4," Taylor said. "We'd won something like 45 straight sets, so we were in uncharted waters.
"It's such an emotional game. That's the way it works here."
Geneva used a kill from Kirstie Otto to take a 3-2 lead in the fourth game, two kills from Chelsea Scafuro and two kills and an ace tip from Emily Ball to take a 14-5 advantage. Ball's ace tip evened the match at two games apiece.
Riding a wave of emotion that was passed from a raucous Geneva fan base, Cool scored a kill on the first point of the fifth game ,and Scafuro made it 3-0 with another kill. After an ace tip from the Bulldogs' Calli Schmitt, Otto struck for a kill.
"I think Kirstie was the big difference for us tonight," Haeseler said. "She was definitely the most vocal and she put the ball down on key plays. I think she made the difference. She just spurred us on for a few points."
Two kills from Cari Getz and one each from Scafuro, Ball and Sarah Juncker had the Eagles in front, 12-3.
The Bulldogs weren't finished, however. Schmitt delivered two blocks, a kill and a tip to even the score, 14-14.
"During one timeout, I said if we were going to go down, we need to go down being aggressive," Taylor said. "We picked up the aggressiveness and it matched up with (Geneva's) passiveness. We started to roll.
"Again, it's an emotional game and we got on a roll. When it's like that, there's not much either team can do."
A spike by Lakeview that went just long and a kill from Scafuro had the Eagles in ecstasy and the Bulldogs heartbroken.
"We had a good lead in the fifth game," Ball said. "We definitely don't like doing nailbiters. It was good we finished strong.
"Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win the (Premier Athletic Conference). That was a check. Then we wanted to beat Lakeview and that's a check, too. It's an awesome feeling."
That last point was the last of Taylor's coaching career as he is retiring.
"The OHSAA will not allow me to comment on that last point," Taylor said. "These kids worked really hard for me. I feel bad for them. It's not about me, it's all about them. For all but two of them, this was probably their last volleyball match. I feel really bad for them."
Lakeview scored wins in the first two games behind middle hitters Schmitt and Marissa Naples.
"Their middles owned us," Haeseler said. "They got a lot of blocks early on. They both get a lot of hang time. We were on our way down and they were still going up. Our timing was off. They definitely have really good middles and a really good setter."
Naples had six kills and two ace blocks in the first game as Lakeview dominated, 25-14. Schmitt took over in the second game with nine kills in the 26-24 win.
"That was good," Taylor said. "I mentioned in the huddle that our front row we were getting hands on everything. The back row was putting it in (setter) Caitlin (McDivitt's) hands. Our transition game was working Games 1 and 2. We got blocked a lot in Games 3, 4 and 5."
The pair each had two kills as the Bulldogs went up, 10-5 in the third game.