In a new twist this season, the Buffalo Grove girls volleyball players study films after school on all match days in first-year coach Matt Priban's math classroom.
So far, it has added up to a winning season, especially in the Mid-Suburban East.
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With junior Alaina Murphy putting down 15 kills and senior Mary Zawlocki adding 5 with 3 blocks, the Bison improved to 3-1 in the East and 9-8 overall with a 25-22, 25-21 victory over visiting Prospect.
"Watching the film helps us focus and puts volleyball on our minds," said Zawlocki, one of four returning Bison. "It calms us down."
"I enjoy watching it," added senior Bailey North, who is used to film-watching as an all-area basketball player. "I like to get to see how the other middles hitters are playing."
North was in the middle for the first time this season and on her first touch, she put down a kill of a set from Marie Georgoulis to give BG an 8-5 lead in Set 2. North had been sidelined with stress fracture in her foot.
Before the match even started, fans were on their feet for sophomore Lizzy Petitt's stirring rendition of the national anthem.
So impressed was Prospect coach Mike Riedy that he invited the BG junior varsity player to sing the national anthem at the Knights' annual "Volley for A Cure" when the teams meet again in Mt. Prospect on Oct. 4.
An indication of the competitiveness of Tuesday's match showed up scoreboard when the teams were tied from 14 to 18 in each set.
Set 1 was even tied at 22 before a kill by Georgoulis made it 23-22. Murphy put down a winner to get it to set point before she ended it with one of her 5 blocks.
"We couldn't stop her (Murphy)," Riedy said. "She was going to town on us and I can't blame her. She was getting kills so she might as well have milked it for all it was worth."
Prospect fans got their money's worth watching senior Holly Hunt. The 6-foot right side hitter put down a team-high 9 kills on 15-of-16 hitting.
"Holly could not have done much more," Riedy said of his front row ace. "Her stats speak for themselves."
BG led 13-9 when Hunt's ninth kill made it 13-10. The Knights got to within 14-13 on a kill by Sam Loebbaka and a second attack kill by setter Maggie Haaning that she alertly lifted backward over her head.
A kill by Bison senior Alyssa Mills broke the 19-19 tie and BG got ahead 22-19 on 2 errors.
"We had too many unforced errors that hurt us," Riedy said.
An ace by Haaning brought Prospect (2-4, 2-2) to within 22-21 before a kill by Sarah Rivera, hitting error by Prospect and black by Zawlocki ended the match.
"Our communication has been good and we are passing well which helps the hitters put the ball down," Zawlocki said. "We work on a lot of different drills and we have a good mindset during practices."
Georgoulis finished with 19 assists from 37 sets.
"It really looks like Mary (Zawlocki and Marie (Georgoulis) are getting on the same page," Priban said. "So hopefully that chemistry will continue. The girls coming together better as a team and playing with the right mental attitude on the court."
Lea Masciopinto sparked the Bison back row with 22 digs while Annie Geweniger led the Knights with 12.
Rivera, Murphy, Georgoulis and Colleen Nowlan each had 5 blocks for BG while Celine Murphy chipped in 10 digs and Alaina Murphy 9.
Allie Skowron added 4 kills for Prospect while teammates Amanda Cipek and Carly Thompson each had 2.