Deerfield answered a lot of questions at the Lake County tournament Saturday. Despite losing to Stevenson in the finals, the Warriors took out two-time defending champion Barrington in the semifinals, rallying from a four-point deficit in the second game to win 25-23, 28-26.
"All season long, we have definitely known our offense is pretty strong," Deerfield coach Eugene Chung said, "We knew from the beginning that getting through the teams, especially really strong offensive teams, we would have to put up more of a defense against them.
"That been sort of the way we've gone," he added. "We've usually come out of the gate slow, but because of our defense we usually close out games at the end. That was something we've been really really aware of and working on."
Deerfield's defense helped the Warriors pull out a 16-25, 26-24, 15-13 win over Warren in pool play Friday night.
"That was a testimonial tour defense," Chung said. "We were pretty much done against Warren and we were able to come back from about 16-10 down in game 2 through our defense, tough serving and putting up some big blocks. We ended up winning that match."
Deerfield got contributions from a number of players at the Lake County invite, including junior outside hitter John Harlan (34 kills, four aces, five blocks), outside hitter Zach Hara (35 kills, two aces, 23 digs), Kenison Ready (19 kills, two blocks), Eli Schmidt (15 kills, 14 digs), setter Jordan Fine (101 assists, seven kills, 26 digs) and Jake Brody (two aces, 30 digs).
"The guys played hard and continue to improve," Chung said. "We still have to work on our defense and also on cutting back on our errors as we move forward. It was great to see the guys battle it out and close out a couple of tough matches over the weekend."
Deerfield, which is scheduled to play Glenbrook North on Wednesday, is the No. 3 seed at the Downers Grove South Mustang Invitational Friday and Saturday.
Here is the schedule for the Downers Grove South invitational:
Friday: Team 1 vs. Team 2, 5:00 p.m.; Team 1 vs. Team 3, 6:30 p.m.; Team 2 vs. Team 3, 8:00 p.m.
Seeds are in parentheses. Here are the pools:
At Downers South
Pool E: 1. Downers South (5), 2. Naperville North (12), 3. Hinsdale South (20); Pool D: 1. Lyons Township (4), 2. Stagg (13), 3. Joliet Central (21); Pool B: 1. Barrington (2), 2. Lake Park (15), 3. Maine West (23); Pool F: 1. New Trier (6), 2. Wheaton Warrenville South (11), 3. Evanston (19).
Pool A: 1. Downers Grove North (1), 2. Oak Park-River Forest (16), 3. Lemont (24); Pool H: 1. Willowbrook (8), 2. Glenbard East (9), 3. Oak Lawn (17).
At Niles West
Pool G: 1. Niles West (7), 2. Loyola (10), 3. Maine South (18); Pool C: 1. Deerfield (3), 2. Glenbrook South (14); 3. Niles North (22).
The quarterfinals of the Gold division start at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday in the main and little gymnasiums, while the Silver and Bronze divisions are played in the fieldhouse.
Here is the schedule for the Brother Rice Smack Attack tournament:
Friday: Team 1 vs. Team 3, 5:00 p.m.; Team 2 vs. Team 3, 6:00 p.m.; Team 1 vs. Team 2, 7:00 p.m.
Here are the pools:
At Brother Rice
Pool A: 1. Glenbrook North, 2. St. Rita, 3. Brother Rice JV; Pool F: 1. Brother Rice, 2. Glenbard West, 3. St. Patrick.
At St. Xavier University
Pool B: 1. Lincoln-Way East, 2. Carmel (Ind.), 3. Chicago Agricultural; Pool C: 1. Lincoln-Way North, 2. Providence, 3. Reavis; Pool D: 1. Sandburg, 2. Payton, 3. Plainfield East; Pool E: 1. St. Francis, 2. Lincoln-Way Central, 3. St. Ignatius.
Pool G: 1. Buffalo Grove, 2. Marist, 3. Mt. Carmel.
The quarterfinals of the Gold division start at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday at St. Xavier University.
Stevenson had not won the Lake County invitational since 2009. But the bigger number for the Patriots is 2000. That's the last time they advanced to the state quarterfinals at Hoffman Estates.
"Winning the county tournament is a big deal because a lot of these teams are in our sectional and it gives you a gauge of where you're at," Stevenson coach Tim Crow said. "It tells you what teams have a higher ceiling than others, and you see different types of teams.
"It's always great to see Loyola, is nice to see and play Vernon Hills," he added. "I know they're down a couple guys. We played Deerfield who we never see regularly, so it's good. Hopefully, our ceiling is still fairly high and we can improve throughout the rest of the season."
Prior to its loss Tuesday at Lyons, Downers Grove North (12-1), the top seed at Downers Grove South, was coming off the tournament championship Saturday at Schaumburg.
The Trojans needed to go three games twice to win the Schaumburg tournament. The Trojans defeated St. Charles East 23-25, 25-20, 25-22 in the semifinals, then rallied to beat Palatine 20-25, 25-19, 25-16 in the championship match.
St. Charles East defeated Schaumburg 25-23, 25-22 for third place, and Fremd beat Hinsdale Central 25-17, 23-19 for fifth.