CICERO – When Riverside Brookfield's Mike Chaney could not walk through the handshake line without help after the Bulldogs lost against Morton in a sectional semifinal, it marked a heartbreaking end to the season for the Bulldogs.
Chaney broke the program record for kills in a season with seven kills in the match, going one better than the previous mark set by Juan Gomez-Velez. That seventh and record-breaking kill would be his last when he went down with an injury in the middle of the second game and left the gym on crutches after the match.
The Bulldogs, which won the second regional title in program history on May 28 by defeating De La Salle 25-15, 28-26, fell against the host and top sectional seed Mustangs 25-19, 25-16.
"With Chaney we had a chance, we were competitive," RB coach Dan Bonarigo said. "I think when he went down it kind of deflated everybody. He was by far the heart and soul of our offense this year."
Chaney's seven-kill, four-dig performance capped off a standout season and career for the senior outside hitter. RB began the season just 3-12, but improved in the second half of the season to finish with a 13-25 record.
"I think to beat Morton we would have to had to play at our best, and even before Mike went down I don't think we were at our best," Bonarigo said. "I'm happy with the way they came out and played. Despite our record being what it is we showed everybody in the gym that we were a good, competitive team that struggled to win close games."
David Wackrow had five kills and Vince Garcia had four in the loss. Nick Green had five digs and Bobby Peugh had four to lead the defensive effort.
RB will have to replace Chaney, Garcia, Green and setter Danny Nava among the seven seniors on the team, but a number of juniors saw significant time. Wackrow, Peugh and Konrad Kroczynski will be among the key expected returning seniors next season.
"That's only our second regional in our 11 years as a program," Bonarigo said. "That's a huge thing. These guys can say they were regional champs and the only other group that can say that is our 2011 group. That's a real positive thing for them. I'm just hoping that next year we can take some of these juniors and we have a good class of freshmen and sophomores coming up that I think we can build on this a little bit and try to get back over 20 wins where we've been the past few years."
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