Deerfield turn it up to 11 during stretch run
Winning 11 straight matches at any point in the season is a pretty impressive accomplishment. Winning 11 straight matches in the stretch run of the season is even better.
Since losing to Genbrook North on April 17, Deerfield has done just that, while only dropping a single set in the process.
Deerfield’s latest victory was a convincing 25-18, 25-19 conference win over Vernon Hills, a team that gave them trouble the first time around, to keep pace with Glenbrook North in the CSL North.
The feature matchup of the first set was between the right side hitters of Vernon Hills, and the outside tandem for Deerfield.
Vernon Hills got the better of Deerfield early on as Derrick Jones and Krys Han combined for seven kills in the first set which resulted in a 6-2 start for the Cougars.
“Vernon Hills change things around a lot and Chris Curry does a nice job of utilizing his personal,” said Deerfield head coach Eugene Chung. “I know they had some people unavailable tonight but like he usually does, he found ways to make it work for them.”
After Deerfield settled into the match, it was the combination of sophomore Jarion Hsieh (six kills, two blocks) and junior Kelan Burns (seven kills) who got the Warriors back on track to tie the match up at 14 a piece before going on a run in the final third of the set to take the opener.
“Typically we take a little while to get into matches because we’re try to get a sense and a feel for the other team,” said Chung. “Once things got settled down a little bit we went on a 9-2 run to finished out that first set. I don’t know what’s magical about point 16 but we seem to figure it out right around there.”
Deerfield continued to pound away at Vernon Hills to start the second as all-conference middle hitter Jacob Shapiro started to come alive after a sub-par opening set.
Shapiro put away five of his six kills in the second set, while adding four blocks for good measure to but Deerfield in commanding position to take the set and the match.
“It’s unusual to see him underperform in any way, but he always contributes in other ways, he laid out for a ball and he serves tough,” said Chung. “He found his rhythm, he got some big kills towards the end, had a six-pack. But what was really nice was to see was we don’t need to rely on that one player and other guys tend to step up.”
Despite being down early, Vernon Hills did not go away quietly. They positioned their way back into the match, taking advantage of Deerfield errors and got within one point midway through the set.
But just like set one, Deerfield found another gear that Vernon Hills couldn’t quite match, as the Warriors took the second set and the match running away.
Deerfield’s next game will be the much anticipated rematch with conference rivals GBN, and a win there will put the Warriors level with the Spartans for the conference lead and put them in prime position for at least a share of the title.
Even with such big stakes, Deerfield will continue to do what they have done over the past 11 matches, which is focus on themselves rather than their opponent.
“One of the things we’ve really tried to focus on as a team is really focus on our side of the net,” said Chung. “We feel like if we play our game in most situations we feel like we should be able to control the match. Not to take away anything from any other team in our conference, we have a tough conference but we just need to worry about our side.”
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