Seniors Addie Blomgren and Annabel Krueger have noticed the progress in the Riverside Brookfield High School girls volleyball team.
In the Bulldogs’ final match, Oct. 24, just about everything went right, except the final score.
On their home floor in front of an enthusiastic crowd, the No. 10-seeded Bulldogs gave No. 6 Downers Grove North a battle before losing 23-25, 25-17, 25-16 in the Class 4A RB Regional semifinals.
“Honestly, that was the most energy we’ve had ever this season and it was just amazing to end it that way,” Blomgren said. “I think our heads were in it. We’ve been working really hard at practice to prepare for regionals. We thought that we were going to win. We came in ready.”
Leading the Bulldogs (19-15) were Krueger (5 kills, 5 assists, 4 digs, 3 blocks), Blomgren (4 kills, 5 blocks, 2 aces), junior Sofia Owens (6 kills, 4 blocks, 2 aces, 5 points), senior Kelley Tyler (8 digs), sophomores Claire Cameron (12 assists, 2 kills, 4 digs, 7 points) and Lucy Boyle (5 kills, 4 digs, 2 aces, 26 service receptions) and freshman Mackenzie Sloger (2 kills, 2 aces, 6 points).
Krueger considered this the team’s best match along with a three-set loss to defending 3A state champion St. Francis Sept. 21. The Bulldogs only graduate four.
“I think the program has developed a lot especially the past two years” Krueger said, “and I think it’s going to continue because I can feel a difference from last year to this year. I’m excited for the girls who are in eighth grade or are freshmen now. It’s going to be really great. I’m glad we got to be a part of that foundation.”
The match was a microcosm of the growth under RBHS coach Caitlin Staib-Lipinski in her second season. The Bulldogs improved from 13-10 in 2022 and won their second outright Metro Suburban Conference title in the past three seasons.
“Despite the loss, I’m really proud of us,” Staib-Lipinski said. “I honestly think Downers North walked in thinking they had it and we gave them a run for their money. We played really well. We had a whole week to prepare. We watched a ton of film.”
Blomgren epitomized the Bulldogs’ effort. Her solo block and four block assists equaled her single-match best.
“That was, I think, the most energy I’ve had while blocking,” Blomgren said. “We talk about energy a ton and I definitely think the energy has changed. The energy’s grown more positive and I think just supporting each other has evolved as well and made a better environment.”
RBHS took its first lead in the first set 9-8 and it quickly ballooned to 19-11. Downers North came back to tie at 23 but a service error and attack error gave the Bulldogs the set.
“We followed the game plan. We just fell short,” Staib-Lipinski said. “We just had a hard time stopping some of our errors but some of our errors were aggressive errors and I’ll take that any day.”