Matt McPartlin has been playing with pain for about a month now.
The Prospect senior middle takes to the court every time out with a bandaged hand due to a dislocated finger suffered earlier in the season in practice.
"It hurts," admitted McPartlin with a smile. "With all the hard hitters in district 214, you really feel it out there."
Yet despite the injury, the senior has been playing some of the best volleyball of his career.
McPartlin had a couple of match-changing blocks in set two at Buffalo Grove Thursday night as the Knights defeated the Bison 27-25, 25-22 to improve to 7-2 in the Mid-Suburban East (19-12 overall).
The Prospect victory erased some of the disappointment from Tuesday's division-deciding loss at Hersey. The Huskies clinched at least a tie for the East title by topping Wheeling on Thursday.
"When you play against BG," said McPartlin, "you know you've got to bring the energy. They're a great team and I love it when we can show what we can do, especially in their gym."
According to another Prospect standout, junior outside hitter Alex Blethen, enthusiasm was the key component versus the Bison.
"Against Hersey, we didn't play very well," said Blethen. "We tried to shake that off and come out tonight with positive energy."
"We've got the people on this team that we need to succeed, but it all depends on our mind-set. We're a team that thrives on energy and we didn't have that at Hersey. I feel like we let we let the team down Tuesday but we couldn't let that get to us. We had to put that (loss) behind us and keep pushing."
Knights coach Mike Riedy, for one, appreciated Blethen's effort Thursday.
"He really came to play," said Riedy. "Alex was outstanding."
Prospect led the entire way in set one, but BG tied the game late.
Then after junior Eryk Krzyzak stroked a kill, a perfectly placed push-kill from Blethen closed out the first set.
In the second set McPartlin's well timed block gave the Knights a lead midpoint, and they held it until the score stood 23-22.
Then a vicious kill from Krzyzak brought the visitors to match point, and after a Krzyzak dig, Grant Andler closed things out with a kill.
"We haven't been playing with our usual intensity," said BG coach Matt Aiello. "When we pass, set and swing, we're one of the best teams in the area, but we're just not doing it right now."
"The good thing is we've got a couple of weeks (before the postseason) to figure it out."
Krzyzak led the Knights with 9 kills of 17-of-19 on attack, while setter Jacob Schwister had 26 assists and 2 aces.
"The guys got it done tonight," said Riedy, who was especially impressed with McPartlin's effort.
"He doesn't complain," said Riedy. "He sucks it up and gets the job done."