It’s amazing how much can change in less than a month.
After having one of their worst performances against Glenbrook North during their last meeting on April 17th, Deerfield put together one of their most complete performances of the season in the rematch, beating GBN 25-22, 17-25, 25-17 to pull level with the Spartans atop the CSL North.
“I’m so proud of these guys. I think last time I interfered a lot as a coach during the match,” said Deerfield head coach Eugene Chung. “Tonight, that was all about them. I told them in the huddle, this isn’t anything I did, you did this, you earned the victory out there and you made this happen tonight.”
In the last matchup between two of the area’s top teams, Deerfield’s struggles in serve receive led to an out of system offense, which GBS took advantage of.
That was not to be the case this time around as the Warriors back line sent setter Caedon Hsieh perfect passes nearly every single ball, leading to nine first set kills for the middle hitters.
Although Deerfield remained in control through much of the first set, GBN rallied and turned a 14-16 deficit into a 18-16 lead in the blink of an eye behind outsider hitter Jack Ferber (12 kills).
However, the even keel Deerfield kept their composure and settled back into the game after a timeout, outscoring GBN 9-5 down to stretch to take the opening set.
“That first set was actually really tight, it was side out volleyball,” said Chung. “They actually did what we like to do which is take a lead late in the game, but we had to dig deep and play clean volleyball to pull it out.”
As so much attention drawn on Deerfield’s middles, it opened up one on one opportunities which Hsieh (30 assists, one kill, one block) took advantage of time after time.
“You can’t overstate what Caedon does. He makes everything happen,” said Chung. “Granted we have a good team with good ball control but Caedon is the one orchestrating the offense and he has so much volleyball IQ. I rarely have to tell him anything in game, once the match starts, he’s the conductor.”
After playing side out volleyball through the first half of the second set, GBN came alive along with their block, as they stuffed Deerfield three times late in set two, after not registering a single block through the first set and a half.
During that stretch, GBN opened up a five point lead while Deerfield couldn’t quite find a breakthrough which forced a third set.
With Deerfield’s conference title hopes hanging in the balance, the Warriors played their bast volleyball of the season as everything from serving to blocking was clicking in the final set.
Deerfield raced out to leads of 10-5 and 17-8 before GBN knew what had hit them and even after the Spartans finally started to side out with some regularity, the damage had been done as Deerfield went on to comfortably close out the match.
“There was just great volleyball going on at both ends,” said Chung. “If we manage to keep the ball alive, we win a lot of those points and that’s what they did. They played with a lot of hear and the wanted to win.”
Although Deerfield’s win was extremely important and even somewhat emotional, they still must navigate three conference matches, and though some teams could be prone to letdowns, Deerfield’s neutral demeanor gives them an edge in the home stretch.
“We’re really not one of those roller coaster of emotion type teams, we’re generally really flat.” said Chung. “It’s sometimes difficult when you’re trying to generate energy but one of the pros of that is we don’t have a lot of lows. They just go about their business and it’s been really fun to see their maturation throughout the season.”
Both teams will start the final stretch of their conference season on Thursday with GBN traveling to Maine East and Deerfield hosting Maine West.