ST. CHARLES – Two thunderous Jack Bujko kills bookended a public address announcement warning against flash photography late in St. Charles North’s boys volleyball season opener Wednesday.
Pardon Bujko for providing such visual fodder. It’s just that he really felt things clicking with setter Jeff Rollins as a 25-19, 25-20 victory against Leyden unfolded, and the only reaction he knew was to pump his fist and shout.
“It’s just fireworks,” Bujko said. “It’s one of the greatest feelings to hit the ball and just bounce it, you know. It feels really great. It’s my favorite thing.”
North (1-0) aims to see similar outbursts as the spring progresses, a challenging task given the makeup of its roster.
The North Stars graduated 12 seniors from last season’s third-place IHSA state tournament team, a group that fed off energetic coach Todd Weimer’s antics and accompanying Twitter hashtag, “TCOB.”
“Taking care of business” is the extended version of that message, and has since produced another Weimer brainchild, #PutInWork.
“He fires us up,” North Stars senior right-side hitter Ben Connor said. “He teaches us where to be and how to do things, but he also gets us pumped up and ready to go, and he also makes practice and games fun.”
There was little doubt Weimer would hatch something given his penchant for such sayings. In the meantime, North knows the key to upholding this catchphrase hinges on another kind of repetition.
A team that loses its core can’t reasonably expect to enter a season with its best grasp on intangibles and fundamentals. In that sense, Weimer has relied on returning seniors and captains Nic Cook (libero/setter) and Bujko (middle hitter/right side) on the floor and in the huddle.
Rollins, another senior, played in spots during the 2013 postseason, as well.
“We’re a little sloppy right now,” Bujko said, “but I think we’ll definitely step it up.”
North and Leyden (0-2) traded sequences of errors and net violations, common sights for jittery March matches.
After North seized a 22-17 lead in Game 2, the Eagles climbed to within two points courtesy of three straight North Stars errors.
Momentum quickly vanished when the Eagles followed with a service error of their own.
When things were more fluid, North established an attack behind Rollins (15 assists), Bujko (five kills) and Connor (four kills). Cook and Rollins contributed 10 digs apiece. Leyden struggled to build a passing game due to illness at the libero spot.
Tyler DeMoss helped stabilize North in the second game.
A first-time volleyball player, the senior played with the basketball team in the winter, but already has impressed with his athleticism and energy.
As if North needs more of the latter.
“The guys, they want to continue the tradition and continue to work hard,” Weimer said. “Sure, we graduated a lot of talent, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a new season, a new year. It’s a new group of guys, OK. And nobody’s telling us that we can’t do it again.”