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Five thoughts from the Northside Invite pool play

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Had a really fun day from my perch at New Trier, here are some of my thoughts from Friday evening’s action.

1. The coaching conundrum

Kevin Lamp and Jack Stevens are two incredible talents, there’s a reason they’re going to high major volleyball programs.

Not only are the two outside hitters great in the front row, but they also have a ridiculous jump serve that can give even the best passers some serious issues.

While watching Lamp rip jump serves, I had a thought. Even though he is a very talented hitter, do you sacrifice hit front row ability to have him serve first, and hope he gets you a few early points.

Coaches from Lakes and Libertyville chimed in with both very valid reasoning. Personally, I would personally have him serve first because he’s still a weapon in the back row, but it is an interesting topic for debate.

 

2. Post first match hangover

New Trier suffered a massive hangover against Lake Forest after a big win over Hersey. Glenbard West did the same against Buffalo Grove, but to a lesser extent to the Trevians and still managed to pull out the win.

Credit where credit is due, the Lake Forest block was tremendous but you can’t help but think how different the match would have been had New Trier not sleepwalked through the first few points and played with the same intensity as they did against Hersey.

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3. Lake Forest was very impressive

Speaking of Lake Forest, I was super impressed with the Scouts today. Obviously when you think about Lake Forest, the first player to come to mind is Kevin Lamp.

Truth be told, Lamp didn’t even have that great of a day. Lake Forest’s defense was ridiculously good, and they do have some pretty decent pieces not named Lamp.

The Scouts defeated New Trier in straight sets, and really gave Hersey a run for their money, being bested by the points cap at 27 (A topic for a different day), and a late rally falling just short. Wouldn’t shock me at all to see Lake Forest go 2-0 on Saturday.

4. The field is ridiculously deep

New Trier was one point away from playing in the fourth place bracket, Glenbrook North went 1-2 on the day, Buffalo Grove took Stevenson to three.

Sometimes a lot of these tournaments can be very top heavy, where you have the likes of Glenbard West, Lake Park, Libertyville, Marist etc. but there is a pretty steep drop off after the top seed line but that was not the case here.

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5. As crazy as things got, all of the top seeds advanced to the gold bracket

With the exception of Hersey, all of the top seeded teams went 3-0 in their respective pool.

Glenbard West looked exceptional, Libertyville didn’t drop a single set, and after a tough three set battle with OPRF, Barrington finished the day strong.

Even Hersey, who lost their opener to New Trier, didn’t panic and won their next two matches in straight sets against some very tough opponents.

Bonus: Gold Bracket predictions

Just for fun (and because I like to make people hate me) we’ll throw out our predictions for the second day of the tournament. If Libertyville has everybody available, which I believe they do, I like them over Hersey. While the Huskies can beat anyone on any given night, they do have a tendency to be a little erratic, as shown in their 9-25 loss to New Trier in set two.

On the other side of the bracket, we have Glenbard West vs. Barrington. Though Barrington have one of the better outside tandems in Michael O’toole and Gavin Hartke, Glenbard West are just so solid from top to bottom.

For the first place match between Glenbard West and Libertyville (potential preview of the state quarterfinals anyone?), I’ll take the Hilltoppers. There is little to no drop off for Glenbard West from 1-6, and I think the lack of a true go to middle hurts Libertyville in this one.

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