Rock Island senior volleyball star Kayla Rice proved to be unstoppable at the net Tuesday, notching 12 kills in Rocky’s straight set home win over Geneseo.
The Western Big Six matchup featured two surging teams seeking to finish the regular season with quality wins with an eye toward the postseason.
With the straight set 25-21, 25-17 victory, Rock Island improved to 10-6 on the season, and 5-1 (2nd place) in the WB6. After a slow start, Geneseo sits at 8-8 on the season, and 3-3 in the conference.
“Our goal entering the match was to stay aggressive from the service line and get Geneseo out of their system and rhythm, and we were able to do just that with quality serves by multiple players, Kayla and Addie Bomelyn were dominant from the outside position on the floor, and I think Kayla put away every ball her teammates were able to set for her,” said Rock Island Coach Morgan Gray after the match.
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The first set of the night was close from the opening serve. Geneseo led early on the net play of freshman Elizabeth Rapps, but back-to-back kills by Rice tied the set at 11, and kills by Rice and Bomelyn later put the Rocks ahead 18-14.
Geneseo had another rally in it, however, and scores by senior Alexandra Jones and Kathryn VanDeWoestyne pulled the Leafs to within three at 24-21 before senior Alexia Clark executed the final score for Rock Island to put the first set in the books, 25-21.
“From the start of the season until tonight, I have been impressed by the attitude and toughness of our players. We make runs, stay focused and simply don’t quit,” said Geneseo coach Casey Komel. “Rock Island has some very big hitters, but we were able to match them with power in key spots in the first set and never felt like we were out of it.”
Rock Island started hot in the second set of the match, leading 8-1 on the play of Rice and Junior Autumn Stone at the net and the work on the floor to keep points alive by Bomelyn, senior Mari Churchill and junior Alaina Esposito. Geneseo climbed back into the set behind the work of Alysia Perez and Jones to get within two at 12-10, before a string of key points by the Rocks, including kills by Rice and Stone and an ace followed by two scores from Esposito, gave Rock Island a 23-14 lead. A Bomelyn kill and an ace by junior Amanda Mumma closed out the set and match for the home team.
“We are in a tough stretch of the season, and it was great to be able to keep our focus and stretch out the floor,” Gray said. “We have Quincy on Thursday, and if we stick to the game plan, serve well, dominate from the back and at the net, we hope to put a string of wins together.
Rice led the Rocks with 12 kills and 8 digs, Bomelyn had 5 kills, 9 digs and 4 assists, Esposito compiled 14 assists, 6 digs and an ace, and Churchill did her job with 12 assists and 5 digs.
Geneseo was led by VanDeWoestyne with 6 kills, 5 assists and 4 digs, Aubrey VanKerrebroeck with 5 kills, 6 assists and 3 digs, Perez with 9 assists, 4 kills and 2 aces, and Jones with 4 kills, 5 assists and 3 digs.
Geneseo will battle Sterling on Thursday in a home conference match.
“When a team in our conference comes in for the second match of the season, it’s important to capitalize on our strengths, and against Sterling on Thursday, our plan is to grab the momentum and put them on the defensive where mistakes can occur,” said Komel.