Geib reaches milestone at Messiah
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Each year that Jess Geib has been at Messiah College, her stats have steadily improved for the Lady Falcons’ volleyball team.
That certainly was no different this past fall.
In fact, the 2010 Warwick High School grad became just the third player ever at Messiah to record at least 1,000 assists in a single season. When all was said and done, the junior setter finished with 1,096 assists while helping to lead the Messiah women to the MAC Commonwealth Conference championship game for the second year in a row.
Geib also registered 115 kills, 319 digs and 51 aces on her to receiving First-Team All-Commonwealth accolades. She was one of three Messiah players to earn First-Team honors, joining seniors Lindsay King (Lancaster Mennonite grad) and Lauren Rees on the squad. Plus, head coach Judi Tobias received conference Coach of the Year honors for the second year in a row.
"It was definitely an honor and it’s something that I’ve definitely worked for," Geib said. "It was awesome to see so many of our teammates get on that list because I just think it’s a reflection of how hard we’ve all really worked for it and the focus that we’ve all had on meeting our goals and just how it’s been such a team effort."
This marked the third straight season in which Geib took home All-Commonwealth honors. She was a Second-Team selection in both 2010 and 2011, when she recorded 860 assists as a freshman and 924 as a sophomore. Her 2,845 total assists in her career are just nine shy of placing her second all-time in Messiah College history.
Geib credits others for helping her achieve the success that she as enjoyed.
"Just getting to play at that level and getting that experience and being under (great) college coaches and especially being surrounded by such a strong team which has also been improving just really challenges me to rise to the next level," Geib remarked. "That has all definitely helped me improve over the years."
Asked about becoming just the third player in school history to reach 1,000 assists in a single season, a milestone she achieved in the Lady Falcons’ 3-0 win over Goucher College on Oct. 27, Geib said, "It’s really cool knowing that I was the third person, and just knowing that I could be a part of building the program at this point is definitely an honor. And for me, it was very exciting because there’s been a lot of progress since my freshman year. My freshman year, I only had 800-some assists, my sophomore year I only had 900-some, so to keep building to get that and to see that progress is definitely very encouraging."
It’s also very encouraging to see the steps that the Lady Falcons are taking as a team. A year ago, Messiah advanced to its first-ever conference championship game and suffered a 3-0 loss to Lebanon Valley College. They gained valuable experience, however, and were confident about their chances this fall.
"From the very beginning, we knew that if we were going to do something big, this would definitely be a good year to do it," Geib said. "We just had a solid defense and a solid offense. We had standout players in almost every position, so we knew that we definitely had the strength and the determination and the experience to be put in that position. Last year, I think we kinda froze up a little bit, we weren’t really use to the feel and the atmosphere of that (conference championship game) and the pressure that came with it. But this year, we had that experience under our belt and we felt very ready for it and we definitely all thought that we would be winning that game and going onto the national tournament."
There was no reason to think otherwise after the 2nd-seeded Messiah women knocked off Elizabethtown for the second time in 10 days in the semi-finals. Down 14-13 in game one, the Lady Falcons went on a 6-1 run and never looked back en route to a 25-20 win. In the second game, Geib’s setter dump tied it 20-all and then Messiah earned a 25-23 decision before closing it out with a 25-19 conquest.
That sent them to the finals with an opportunity to avenge an earlier 3-1 loss to Stevenson this season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, as the Lady Mustangs snapped Messiah’s 13-game win streak and prevailed 3-0 for the title (25-23, 25-20, 25-22).
Selections for the NCAA Division-III Championships were announced a couple of days later, and Messiah’s hopes of earning its first-ever trip to Nationals as an at-large bid fell a little short.
Asked how disappointing it was for the team not to advance, Geib said, "It went both ways because on the one hand, we knew that our chances were pretty small of getting in. We had a streak in the middle of the season where we lost four or five games to tough teams right in the middle that really made a difference for us getting that bid. But it was very disappointing because we first of all didn’t expect our season to be ending. We thought that we would have earned our bid by winning the MAC championship and getting in and going on. It was also very disappointing because our senior class … there’s only three of them, but it was a very strong senior class and they really, really wanted this — they wanted the title, they wanted to be in the tournament and they worked very hard for it. So we wanted to see them get to do that."
Make no mistake, however. Geib admitted that the Messiah women’s close call this year will help motivate them in 2013.
"When I think about this past year’s team, like I said, we had a lot of standout players in different positions. And when I think about next year’s team, I think about a solid team all over," Geib said. "We’re going to have really solid defense, really solid offense and though we don’t have our one or two standout players, we still probably will have some of those, but we’re just going to be very, very solid and very consistent all around and those are teams that definitely go far. So I think that our strength’s just going to be different, but we’re still going to be a very strong team." More GEIB, page B4