East Hall’s season came to an end Tuesday night in the second round of the Class AAA state tournament in Gainesville. The Lady Vikings fell to Jefferson 25-17, 25-13, 15-25, 25-12.
“We gave good effort, no doubt,” East Hall coach Ted Deppe said. “Jefferson’s got a lot of weapons. They’re a good volleyball team, and we knew we were going to have to play our best ball to beat them.”
The first set saw East Hall get out to an early lead. It went back and forth until Jefferson pulled away at the end to take the set. The second set was all Jefferson.
Down 2-0 with their season on the line, East Hall played inspired volleyball. They started strong, jumping out to a 13-5 advantage before holding off a late rally by Jefferson to take the set and put some life back into the home crowd.
“In the third set, we played some pretty good volleyball,” Deppe said. “I’m proud of the way they played. They never gave up tonight.”
East Hall junior Minette Maldonado finished with 12 kills and 15 digs. Freshman Savannah Thellman had 18 assists, and sophomore Summer Lindsey had 22 digs. Seniors Jessica Chmiel, Cassida Shockley and Lorna Ayon had four digs, seven kills and 13 digs respectively.
Despite the Lady Vikings’ best efforts, Jefferson was just too much, and it showed in the fourth set. The Lady Dragons went up 7-1 early, then 13-4 before putting the set and the match away, 25-12.
“I thought we played great today,” Jefferson coach Mike Paul said. ”East Hall played great defense all night long. We found some seams in their defense, and I thought our kids played very well today against a good team.
“We hit the ball well, we served well, and I though our passing was outstanding.”
Jefferson junior Abby Wood led the way with 13 kills and 15 digs. Senior Madison Corbett had 22 assists, and senior Olivia Przybysz led the team with 23 digs.
“We played really strong,” Corbett said. “In the third game, we got a little tired, but in the fourth game, we brought it back up and played to the best of our abilities.”
Jefferson advances to the state quarterfinals Saturday to face an opponent still to be determined.
“I think we can go all the way,” Przybysz said. “When we play on, we’re on.”
East Hall finishes the season 35-14, a school record for the fewest amount of losses.
“I honestly never thought we would finish 35-14, no way, because we’re young,” Deppe said. “For them to do that being this young is just phenomenal.”
East Hall graduated the majority of their starters last season, so less was expected out of them this season, even from their own players.
“I did not believe in us in the beginning,” Maldonado said. “We were such a young team, but we fought and we came together. There were times, of course, that you have your miscommunications, but other than that we’ve had nothing but good attitudes, positivity, and I thought it was a good season.
“They proved me wrong.”