Once the action started on Tuesday, Gainesville’s sophomore middle hitter Morgan Frazier wasn’t even focused on the fact that her former teammates from Flowery Branch were the ones on the other side of the net in a big Area 8-AAAAA volleyball match.
She was focused on being the strong presence in the middle that Lady Red Elephants coach Randi Orr has come to expect for this youthful Gainesville team, which entered the evening tied with Apalachee for the top spot in the area.
“It made me more focused to play against Flowery Branch,” said Frazier. “It was important for me to play well.”
Frazier remained a presence the entire match in the middle of the court with big blocks in the first and third game as the Lady Red Elephants, and a roster comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores, captured a 25-15, 17-25, 25-12 win in Gainesville.
Gainesville (9-4, 5-0 Area 8-AAAAA) and Flowery Branch both started the tri-match with wins against East Jackson. The Red Elephants topped the Eagles 25-12, 25-9; while the Lady Falcons beat East Jackson 25-12, 25-16.
In the nightcap against Flowery Branch, Gainesville started on a roll with an aggressive play and took advantage of the Lady Falcons’ difficulty returning from the back line.
“Our girls are working so hard,” Orr said. “We have very high expectations and we’re not going to lower them because of their age.”
In the third game, Frazier kept the momentum rolling after a fast start with a spike at the net that put the Lady Red Elephants in front 12-6. After a point for Gainesville on a serve that went untouched on the other side of the net, it kept the pressure on to close out the match.
Flowery Branch was at its best in the second game, keeping the pressure on after it was tied 12-all. The Lady Falcons would go on an 8-1 scoring run, including a nicely placed served that went untouched and landed just inside the back line. Flowery Branch had to win after Gainesville dominated Game 1, 25-15.
“I thought we had it after the first game, but Flowery Branch played better than us in Game 2,” Orr said. “They served better, played better all around.”
The first game was highlighted by Gainesville’s ability to find openings in the Flowery Branch defense. The Red Elephants also played with strong communication. Orr said it was also a strong effort by her setter Tanai Watson, who finished with 14 assists.
Bethany Whitenton had 11 service points, four aces and four kills for Gainesville, and Alyssa Turner chipped in nine service points, five kills and four aces. Jasey White ended the match with six service points and four kills for the Lady Red Elephants.
For Gainesville against East Jackson, Sydney King had five service points and four aces. Turner had six aces and four service points for the Red Elephants.
The Lady Falcons visit Apalachee for an 8-AAAAA tri-match with Winder-Barrow at 5 p.m. Monday. Gainesville plays in the East Hall Spikefest on Saturday.