Gainesville High’s first home volleyball playoff match was a resounding success. The Lady Red Elephants (35-9) played strong offensively and had command of the floor in a win Thursday against Creekview (25-16, 27-25, 18-25, 25-16) in the best-of-five Class AAAAA playoff opener in Gainesville.
“We’re very excited to win our first home playoff match,” Gainesville coach Randi Orr said. “Our goal was to have the gym packed by 5:30 tonight and just loved to see this big crowd in our gym.
“The entire community shows so much support to us and is like one big family.”
Senior outside hitter Stasha Hopkins pointed out how much having the fans and students in the stands meant to the team.
“The turnout was great,” Hopkins said. “It’s kind of overwhelming and feels great to know we won.”
Last season, Gainesville went on the road for all three of its playoff matches after emerging from Region 8-AAA as the No. 3 seed in 2011.
On Thursday, Gainesville got a big boost with a come-from-behind win in Game 2. Trailing 16-13, the Lady Red Elephants took advantage when one of Creekview’s players served the ball under the net. From that point forward in the game, Gainesville covered the floor much more efficiently and had great play at the net, led by senior outside hitter Hopkins.
Once Gainesville tied the score at 20-all, the Lady Red Elephants pulled ahead after the score was tied again after each point, five times in all.
The win in Game 2 put the Lady Red Elephants ahead 2-0, after winning the first easily. In Game 1, Gainesville took advantage of inconsistent floor coverage by the Lady Grizzlies and jumped ahead 8-2 early. Gainesville furthered its lead to 11-5 when a well-placed return landed just inside of the back line of the defense.
“To win the fist two games tonight was a great start,” Orr said.
In Game 3, Creekview took a commanding lead early. With Gainesville trailing 14-9, it took a time out and picked up some momentum before eventually losing 25-18.
To wrap up the victory, Gainesville kept a steady lead for the majority of the fourth game. The Lady Red Elephants’ biggest lead of the game came at 16-11. Orr says after losing momentum in Game 3, the offense and front line play helped Gainesville put it away.
For Gainesville, Kaylin Walden had 15 service points, 24 assists and five kills, while Anna Walker had 14 service points, 11 kills and three aces. Hopkins had 13 kills for the Lady Red Elephants, and Lauren Carter provided eight digs.
Also for Gainesville, Sydney Calkins had 14 service points, and Laura Beth Lorentz added 13 service points and three aces.
With the win, Gainesville hosts Starr's Mill in the second round on Tuesday in Gainesville.