Since 2006, the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys volleyball team had beaten Riverside-Brookfield 10 matches in a two, losing only one set in the process.
The Bulldogs finally turned the tide their way with a 25-18, 22-25, 25-12 win against the visiting Huskies on April 28.
After the teams split two games, the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run capped off by a block from sophomore middle hitter Jason Bageanis to build a 15-7 lead in Game 3. Extending the advantage to 23-12, RBHS junior outside hitter Erik Hartwig had a kill and senior middle hitter Maclean Nolan an ace to secure the victory.
“I was feeling really energized because we have a very active team,” Nolan said. “This year, our energy has been so much higher. That really helps me as a player and makes me better out there.”
Nolan led the Bulldogs with 15 kills, along with five blocks and two aces. Junior libero Zach Georgopoulos contributed a team-high 11 digs and junior setter Peter Ferguson dished out 30 assists.
The Huskies’ Liam Shannon finished seven kills and two assists, while junior middle/right side Mike Saleh had seven kills and a block. Junior outside hitter Elijah Peppers added four kills. Senior outside hitter Connor Grimes had a game-winning ace in Game 2 for OPRF (8-15, 0-3 West Suburban Silver Conference).
“Our serve receive was very good (in Game 2),” said Shannon. “That was our best part of the game and a big reason why we won it. Our setting also was very good, but we definitely need to improve in hitting and blocking.”
Coming off a 13-25 campaign in 2015, the Bulldogs (17-7) are a vastly improved team this spring.
“This group of guys is just clicking a lot better than we were last year,” Nolan said. “We’re more of a friendly team with each other this year and we motivate each other to do well.”
With five matches remaining plus the Willowbrook Invite before the postseason begins, RBHS coach Dan Bonarigo is pleased with the job the players have done restoring the Bulldogs’ vision of success.
“It’s really been about motivating these guys,” Bonarigo said. “I let them know that the past few years aren’t the program that we’ve been trying to build. I’ve been telling them that it’s up to them to reestablish what this program is about. If they keep playing hard, the sky’s the limit.”