In addition to playing the game at a high level, 6-foot-6 Buffalo Grove senior Jose Aguirre says he has another, equally important job for this year's Bison volleyball team.
"My role, and my personality, is to bring the energy," said Aguirre. "I like to play with joy and enthusiasm and be a good influence on my teammates."
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Tuesday night, the senior's spirited performance helped BG to a great start in the Mid-Suburban East.
Aguirre gave a strong effort at the net with 6 blocks and classmate Evan Bunnetto added 7 kills as the Bison defeated Prospect 25-22, 25-9 in the conference opener for both teams.
Junior Grant Andler had 3 aces for the Knights, who were on the doorstep of winning the first set before falling victim to a superior BG performance in set two.
"We came out very energetic in the first game," said Andler, who was also 11 of 12 on serve receive. "In the second game we started to get a little hesitant on our hits, but we know we're going to have good games and bad games. You've just got to keep pushing no matter what the score is, and keep your head up."
Prospect junior Ryan Maloney finished 4-of-4 from the service line and also recorded an ace.
"I was pleased with our performance in the first game," said Knights coach Mike Riedy. "We've been focusing on elevating our game, and everyone came out tonight and played at a higher level."
Prospect took an 18-16 lead in set one after a block kill by junior Jacob Schwister, but BG (6-7, 1-0) rallied behind a spike by sophomore Athan Cruz to grab a 21-20 advantage.
The Knights (0-1, 0-7) tied the game on an excuse-me dump kill by Schwister, but a tip kill and block kill by Bunnetto led the Bison to the first set win.
"We were too sloppy in the first game," said Aguirre. "Especially on serve. We were hitting it out and hitting it into the net."
"But our coach (Matt Aiello) tells us that it's all about confidence, and once we got our confidence going, we were fine -- and if we can keep that up that rest of the season, we're going to have a really, really good team."
Schwister's ace opened the 2nd set scoring to give Prospect the early lead, but thereafter it was all BG as Nikita Bulauski (2 blocks, 2 kills), Kevin Shanahan (9 assists, 6 digs, 2 kills) and Cruz (4 kills) all made clutch contributions to the victory.
Prospect junior Max Gancarz finished 11-of-12 on serve receive, while BG senior libero Michael Maley added 5 digs for the winners.
"We're a young team as most teams in the area are," said Aiello,"and were sloppy early."
"To their credit, the guys kept their composure. We obviously played very well in game two but I'm more proud about how we finished game one."