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Area volleyball programs gearing up for second round of state playoffs
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North Hall middle blocker Caroline Brady (3) spikes the ball during the first round game of the Class 3A state tournament between North Hall and Towers in Gainesville, on Oct. 11, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

And then there were four. 

East Hall, North Hall, Buford and Gainesville are the Hall County teams still in the hunt as the second week of the state volleyball playoffs resume Tuesday.

For some it started with a breeze, while others were tested. Yet all share the same realization: Nothing is guaranteed.

“There’s nothing at this point that’s completely different, you know?” North Hall coach Emi Hughes said. “You kind of have to stick to what got you here, and that’s how we’re preparing. At this point, it does not matter who you play — you have to win to stay in.”

Hughes, whose Lady Trojans made program history with a state semifinal berth a year ago, said her team is certain they belong. Having seven seniors who haven’t failed in reaching the third round certainly helps as well.

“When you get a taste of that, you hope you have girls who are hungry enough to be there again,” she added. “And this group certainly does. …(This group of seniors) don’t know anything but good, high success, which is a great thing. ...you always want to be playing the last week of October.

North Hall (43-10) hosts East Jackson on Tuesday, the second-straight year that the Lady Trojans meet the Eagles in the Sweet 16.

“We’ll have to bring something different than we did Wednesday night,” Hughes added. “...Nothing at this point is a guarantee, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves mentally and think, ‘you know, we’ve already played them last year.’ ...We’re just gonna do our best to play to play consistent North Hall volleyball, and I like my chances when we’re doing that.”

As for No. 3 seed East Hall (31-17), it travels to Jefferson to play No. 1-seed Jackson County (31-10), a squad that caught a second wind late in the regular season, according to East Hall coach Ted Deppe.

Deppe was pleased with his team’s ability to pass and serve in the opening round, said they’ll need it all against the Panthers, who are winners of nine-straight entering this second-round match. The Lady Vikings split matches with the Panthers during the regular season.

“They’ve won a lot of volleyball lately,” Deppe said of Jackson County. “I would imagine they’re going into this with a lot of confidence. ...We’re gonna have to play with the crowd noise. ...We’ll have to play a good solid match in all phases of the game.”

In Class 6A, the top-seeded Red Elephants sweep of River Ridge in the first round was no cake walk. A great deal of mental toughness was required against a fourth-seed coming from a noteworthy Area to include defending Class 6A champion Harrison. Gainesville coach Randi Moore indicated it revealed certain areas to improve — blocking a high priority — in order to go swing-for-swing with Pope in Tuesday’s second-round match at Gainesville High.

The Greyhounds (31-8) finished second behind last season’s state runner-up Alpharetta in the final Area 7-6A standings earlier this month.

The defending Class 5A champion Buford Lady Wolves (37-3) captured their ninth consecutive victory Wednesday with a sweep of Maynard Jackson in the opening round, and host No. 2 Hiram in the second round Tuesday. 

The Wolves’ have not lost a playoff match since Nov. 1 2014, when they fell to Marist in the Class 4A title match.

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