At the end of the first match of the season, established veterans Michael Heinz and Ryan Opitz of Vernon Hills noted the absence of graduated seniors Thomas Robinson and Martin Niemczewski.
Frankly, no one will sorry for the Cougars this year. That's because coach Chris Curry's teams just seem to reload every year.
Opening night of volleyball season saw both Vernon Hills and home-standing Prospect make their share of early mistakes.
Vernon Hills used the steady serving of Opitz, the hitting of Heinz and the blocking of Max Spiglanin to post a 25-21, 25-17 win over the young Knights.
"Overall, we did well,'' Opitz said. "Everybody did pretty good. We came ready to play."
Heinz (4 kills) was not shy on the road, freely barking out commands to his teammates.
"I was just calling out to the hitters,'' Heinz said. "I wanted them to know the blocking schemes."
The first set was close most of the way. On a serving ace from Chris Edwards, the Vernon Hills lead was 13-10. From there the Cougars never surrendered the advantage.
"We started out shaky,'' Curry said. "But I'm happy we made adjustments."
The second set was all Vernon Hills. Spiglanin showed off his blocking skills as the Cougars spurted to a quick 8-4 lead.
"We have a really good setter,'' Curry said of Opitz. "And it was good to see Opitz and Spiglanin get their tempo."
Spiglanin led the Cougars with 6 kills and 2 blocks.
A Spiglanin block kill gave the visitors a 22-11 lead. If there was a highlight for the Knights it came from the last server for the match. The team's tallest player, 6-foot-5 junior Grant Andler notched a pair of aces.
"He's tall and you can't teach tall,'' said Prospect coach Mike Riedy. "He's aggressive and likes to take charge out there."
Andler gave credit for his height because of a diet of cereal and milk growing up. He knows his young Knights need some time to work together.
"It's a really young team,'' Andler said. "We need to work harder on our passing."
Andler also took time to salute the Cougars.
"They have a lot of good players,'' he said. "They have good hitters and a well balanced team."
Vernon Hills setter Opitz notched 14 assists. The Cougars are still awaiting the services of senior middle hitter Evan Borden, who is injured.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.