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‘Unique’ Bulldogs group bounced from postseason

HILLSIDE – After missing half of her junior season with an injury, Monica Kasper made sure to enjoy her senior year.

Kasper, a captain and outside hitter for the Riverside Brookfield girls volleyball team, saw her career and the team’s season end in a regional final loss to Downers Grove North on Thursday. The Trojans won 25-20, 25-14 at Proviso West.

Despite the loss, Kasper leaves the program with good memories on and off the court.

“This group of girls is definitely a unique one,” Kasper said. “We’ve had a pretty rough season on the court, but off the court we were so close and we worked together so well. Even though sometimes we weren’t all mentally there, we always pulled through and we had a bunch of great wins.”

RB finished with a 20-16 record. The No. 10 seeded Bulldogs beat No. 7 Whitney Young 25-18, 25-23 in a regional semifinal. The Dolphins were Chicago Public League champions.

Kasper and fellow senior Amy Frey both missed significant portions of last year with injuries. Kasper suffered an ACL injury in the middle of last season. Amanda Lelivelt was the only player to return from last year’s regional, and RB went through the growing pains that go with an inexperienced roster.

“We were real up and down,” RB coach Dan Bonarigo said. “We would have a good stretch and a bad stretch, but overall we played hard. That’s about all I can ask for.”

Senior Kayla Noffsinger earned a starting spot this season. The four seniors – Frey, Kasper, Lelivelt and Noffsinger – leave a team that expects eight returners and three starters to comeback next season.

Kasper hopes the senior class helped put the younger players in position to be more successful next year.

“It was definitely hard watching them play without my contribution (last year) and this year it’s really nice to inspire the other girls to meet their goals and rise above their level of play,” Kasper said.

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