Riverside-Brookfield High School seniors Kenny Fedorski (left) and Michael Burns have played volleyball alongside one another since their grade school days at Komarek School in North Riverside. Burns, an outside hitter, leads the 2022 Bulldogs in kills, while Fedorski leads the team in digs. | Bill Stone/Contributor

Riverside-Brookfield High School seniors Michael Burns and Kenny Fedorski have been volleyball teammates since their days as sixth-graders at Komarek School in North Riverside.

“I know his parents made some good food when I’d come over,” Burns said. “That’s what I remember the most. Burgers, pretty good burgers, and chicken.”

In their final season together, the pair hope to continue tasting success. The Bulldogs (9-5) would like to at least resume their stretch of 20-victory seasons from 2016-19 and capture their first regional since 2017.

Burns, a 6-foot-1 right-side hitter finalizing his college volleyball plans, leads RBHS in kills (123) and is second in total blocks (14). The 5-11 Fedorski is tops in digs (75), second in service receptions (121) and assists (64) and third in kills (39).

“Sometimes I definitely see hints of those early days where we’re kind of just going out there having fun,” Fedorski said. “I definitely enjoy that part about it, how we’re able to enjoy ourselves on the court when we’re doing good.”

They made Komarek’s seventh-grade team as sixth-graders. Burns had an older cousin who had played at Komarek and RBHS. Fedorski’s mother, Kim (Lee), was a member of the Bulldogs’ 35-4 girls volleyball team that reached the 1988 Class AA quarterfinals and played at Iowa State.  

“We’re super happy with how those two guys have been playing,” RBHS coach Dan Bonarigo said. “They’ve been playing in the program for four years. But they’ve both been playing club their entire high school time, so they’ve got a lot of experience and it definitely shows on the court.”

They began club volleyball together with Third Coast Elite, which has since become 630 based in Darien. This is Fedorski’s first year playing with FORZA.

“I think we have a good connection for playing for so many years together. And you build strong friendships along with that on the court,” Burns said. “I think if you have a better friendship with somebody you play better with them, too.”

Bonarigo calls Fedorski the Bulldogs’ “jack of all trades.” He’s the setter for his club team, but the Bulldogs usually run a one-setter offense with junior Landon Harazin (190 assists). 

When Harazin was out with an ankle injury during the Joliet West Tournament on March 26, Fedorski became primary setter. He had a combined 47 assists in three-set victories over Jones and Joliet Central.

“I like the team effort [of volleyball]. It’s always mentally challenging to have to play as a team,” Fedorski said. “Most of the time I spend is probably at the computer watching [match and training] videos, different strategies. Just really learning the game and analyzing really helped me.”

In preparing for the next level, Burns stopped wrestling after sophomore year and opted to move from middle to outside hitter this season. He’s increased his kills to 3.7 per set from 3.0 in his limited 2021 action with 72 kills in 24 sets.  

“I think I’m too short to for the middle blocker position. Most [middle blockers] in college are pushing 6-5, 6-6, but the [outside hitters], you can be a little on the shorter end and still be able to do fine,” Burns said.

Against Joliet Central, Burns had his greatest offensive match with 20 kills, just one shy of tying the Bulldogs’ single-match record. 

“I’d like [our team] to do very good in the road to state. I’d also like to possibly break any RB record,” Burns said. “I’m trying to make the team as good as we can and push us to our full potential because I think we have a lot of potential.”