Bulldogs no match for powerhouse OPRF

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By Michael McCormick

The Riverside Brookfield Bulldogs lost to Oak Park and River Forest 25-15, 25-7 last week. The Bulldogs were hampered by sickness and injury in the game as they went up against the Huskies, ranked No. 1 in Illinois by the Chicago Tribune. Nonetheless, Bulldogs head coach Laura Witteman was pleased with the effort that her team put forth.

"We have been playing Oak Park since we started," she said. "I thought that the boys played very well. They forced some errors on Sean O'Malley, which was good."

Witteman was alluding to Oak Park's star outside hitter who will play volleyball at UCLA next year.

Riverside Brookfield notched 10 kills, 13 digs, five assists, and an ace against the Huskies. Eli Johnston led the Bulldogs with four kills, two digs, and an ace. He was also very important for the Bulldogs' defense.

"He was instrumental in blocking a lot of the OPRF hitters so that we could dig them," said Witteman. Johnston sprained his ankle in the match, however, and was unable to play for much of the second game, which hurt the Bulldogs.

John Balderman, Riverside Brookfield's setter, also had a good match.

"He kept very composed on the court," said Witteman. "He did an excellent job keeping the team together against the number one team in the state."

Ted Johnson had eight digs for the Bulldogs, and was able to defend against OPRF's serves. Leo Harrington also had two kills, along with a block kill against O'Malley.

Along with Johnston's sprained ankle, Riverside Brookfield was without starting outside hitter Chris Lid, who could not play because of a bout with the flu.

Witteman felt that playing OPRF was good experience for the Bulldogs, who are only in their third year with a varsity boys' volleyball program. They were able to slow down the Huskies' offense and disrupt O'Malley. They also learned how to work around a strong defense such as that of OPRF.

The Bulldogs beat Kennedy High School 25-20, 25-17 on April 11. The team had 16 kills, 16 digs, three aces, and five blocks. Harrington had five kills as well as all three of the Bulldogs' aces. He also had one block and one assist. Balderma had 11 assists, three kills, and a block.

The Bulldogs, who were 5-3 as of press time, started their Suburban Prairie (East) Conference season Tuesday (after deadline) against Plainfield.

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