Libero Kendrick Taves led the way with 10-for-10 on serve receive as Prospect scored a hard-earned 25-23, 25-21 victory over host Elk Grove on opening night in the Mid-Suburban League East Division boys volleyball season.
That perfect serve-receive mark by Taves was even more impressive considering that the junior -- who is listed on the roster as a right-side hitter -- was seeing his first conference match action as a defensive specialist.
Contact information ( * required )
"They told me I'd be playing some (libero) this season," said Taves, who was on the JV squad last year as a sophomore hitter. "I enjoy it for the most part -- it feels great to help the team by making a good pass, but it's a tough position to play. You take a lot of hard hits."
Coach Mike Riedy of Prospect (3-4, 1-0) liked what he saw of the junior Tuesday.
"Based on his performance he's going to be playing there a lot more," Riedy said. "He definitely didn't hurt himself tonight."
Knights junior Eryk Krzyzak had 13 digs for the visitors, while 6-foot-6 senior Grant Andler paced the Prospect attack with 7 kills.
Senior Sam Ostling hit 7 kills for the Grenadiers to go along with a service ace.
"We started off sloppy," said Ostling. "We came together at the end of the second game but it was a little too late."
"I saw a lot of good things out there," said Grens coach Dan Windholz, "but also a lot of mistakes. It was kind of an up-and-down night for us. We'd play great for a while, then give up runs of 4 or 5 points.
"We knew we'd have to contend with their number 11 (Andler) in the front row and from the service line, but I thought we'd do a better job managing that."
Elk Grove (4-3, 0-1) rallied from a big deficit in the first set and tied the game at 23-23 on a kill by Geoffrey Dybicz.
But Prospect got the next point on a kill by Krzyzak, then closed out Set 1 when the Grens committed a hitting error.
"I can see that something we have to work on is closing teams out," Riedy said. "When you've got a big lead on a team you can't make things interesting by letting them back in the game."
It was the same story in the second set after Windholz called timeout with the Grens trailing 10-4, just like he did in the first set with the same score.
Elk Grove rallied again, but a couple of net serves killed the momentum, and Prospect took a 24-17 lead on an Andler spike.
The Grens fought off 4 match points before a wide serve gave the Knights the win.
"We're a young team, but our juniors have a lot of experience from last year," Windholz said. "Volleyball-wise, I think we're extremely young in the middle and that hurt us."
Alex Blethen added 6 kills and 7 digs for Prospect, while Jacob Schwister contributed 20 assists.
"We've only got three starters back from last season, but we're starting to jell as a team," Riedy said.
"We're coming together," added Taves. "We came out with the mindset tonight to play as a team and that kept us competitive."