Jason Bageanis is a standout player in every sense of the word on the Riverside-Brookfield High School volleyball team. As an imposing 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior middle hitter, he is unequivocally the Bulldogs’ biggest, best and most experienced player.
“Jason is a three-year starter,” RBHS volleyball coach Dan Bonarigo said. “We obviously look for him to lead the way and dominate the net. He’s quite a force and really connects with our setter (Jonah Raith). This year, Jason is the focal point of our offense and teams must account for him at all times.”
With only two seniors on the roster, Bageanis’ leadership has been a natural progression.
“When I was a sophomore on varsity, I just wanted to learn and get ready for the upcoming years,” Bageanis said. “Maclean Nolan played the same position as me when I was a sophomore, so I learned a lot from him. And Bono [Bonarigo] is a great coach who taught me almost everything I know about volleyball.”
Bageanis, who picked up volleyball his freshman year, has been a quick study. His natural athleticism coupled with a passion for volleyball has netted Bageanis a scholarship from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
“I stayed for an overnight visit and everybody was very nice and welcoming,” Bageanis said. “The volleyball coach [Dawn Kerr] is really nice and they have a good program. I’m very excited about playing there next year.”
When he joins the Bees next season, they will be adding an explosive player to their roster.
Bageanis has 183 kills, 42 blocks, 30 digs and 19 aces in 59 sets this season. In 2017, he finished with 221 kills, 75 blocks over 91 sets for RBHS.
“Jason has proven to be a great hitter and blocker, but this season we have named him as a captain,” Bonarigo said. “We have depended on his leadership in addition to the execution of skill. Jason sets a great example in practice everyday of what hard work and effort can do for our team.
“Every day he raises the bar for his teammates in terms of offensive production and creativity,” Bonarigo added. “His athleticism has allowed our setter, Jonah Raith, to be much more creative and risky than we originally expected. He should fit in well at St. Ambrose and I expect that he’ll contribute early on in his career.”
Last winter, Bageanis played well as a starting forward on the Bulldogs’ basketball team. The All-Metro Suburban Conference pick averaged 7 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field. He also led the team in rebounding in 15 games.
“Jason is physically very strong and an excellent jumper. He had the highest vertical leap on our team this past season,” RBHS coach Mike Reingruber said. “He is a kid that liked to do the little things to help his team succeed. He was the guy setting hard screens, getting tough rebounds, diving on the floor for loose balls, taking charges and all the other intangible things that help a team win games.”
After a losing campaign in Tom McCloskey’s final season as the Bulldogs’ head basketball coach in 2017, Bageanis is proud of the team’s turnaround with a 19-11 record this year.
“Both McCloskey and Reingruber are great coaches,” Bageanis said. “Coming off a down season my junior year, it felt good to bring the program back up this season.”
The Bulldogs’ 67-65 upset win over Fenwick was a particularly meaningful victory for Bageanis, who scored 13 points against the Friars.
“Beating Fenwick is my favorite memory from basketball,” he said. “It was a really intense and fun game to play in, especially because they are a rival.”
Although the Bulldogs’ postseason run ended with a 67-59 loss against regional host Curie, Bageanis played well by going 4-for-4 from three-point range to finish with 12 points.
“From freshman through senior year, Jason has been one of the most improved players in our program,” Reingruber said. “He devotes a lot of time and works really hard at the game of basketball and it definitely showed in his play throughout the years. He always had a great attitude and he is very coachable. We will miss Jason very much in the basketball program.”
With his high school hoops career already in the books, Bageanis is focused on volleyball. RBHS (14-12) is the No. 13 seed in the 27-team field of the IHSA Sectional of the state playoffs. The Bulldogs begin the playoffs against Marmion Academy in the Metea Valley Regional quarterfinals on May 21 at 5:30 p.m.
“We went to the sectional semis when I was a sophomore and the sectional finals last year,” Bageanis said. “I want to go all the way this season and a win a state title. It’s important that we finish off the year strong.”