With the volleyball season just underway, both Johnson and North Hall left Thursday night’s tri-match with some positives and some negatives.
The downside was that both schools lost in straight sets to Class AAAAA’s Collins Hill, but the two rebounded from those losses to put together a competitive match in the nightcap that was won by the Lady Trojans (25-14, 25-19).
“It felt very good to come back like that after those tough losses to Collins Hill,” North Hall coach Emi Hughes said. “I’m glad we didn’t have a lot of time to think about the loss.”
After Johnson (1-3) opened the tri-match with a 25-12, 25-19 loss to the Lady Eagles, it was North Hall’s turn to try and take down a volleyball program that won 20 games last year and are 4-0 to start the 2009 season.
The Lady Trojans (1-1) fared just as well as Johnson, falling 25-18, 25-16 to Collins Hill, but rebounded nicely to the tune of a 25-14 win over Johnson in the first game.
North Hall used scoring runs of 8-1 and 6-0 to build a commanding lead.
Johnson coach Deb Eidson didn’t blame the first game score on the extended break between matches.
“The girls should be used to that,” she said. “That shouldn’t be an issue.”
It seemed to be one in the second game, as North Hall jumped out to an 11-2 lead thanks in large part to three aces from senior Evann Rowland.
But back-to-back kills from Johnson’s Mary Fiorentino and Karis Sloan, followed by a dig by Shelley Farley cut North Hall’s lead to five points.
“That’s one thing I say about these girls,” Eidson said. “They have a lot of heart and never give up.”
That was evident during the ensuing 7-2 run that trimmed the Lady Trojans’ lead to two.
“We just kind of started making unforced errors,” Hughes said. “It’s early and we’re still working out some kinks.”
One thing Hughes won’t have to worry about is the play of her senior captain Rowland, whose dig set up a kill by Sarah Paschall to give North Hall a 23-17 lead, and then came through with a kill of her own to set up match point.
“Those kinds of plays bring energy that we need,” Hughes said. “In order for us to be successful, our seniors have to play well.”
The Lady Trojans put the match away with an ace by Lindsey Wright.
“It’s always hard losing to North Hall,” Eidson said. “We have a good rivalry and that’s someone we always want to beat because they’re tough competitors.
“But we ended on a good note because we didn’t give up.”
Farley led Johnson with eight assists and four digs. Caitlin Sloan had two blocks and two digs and Fiorentino had four kills for the Lady Knights in the loss.
Kathryn Bell led North Hall with 15 assists, two kills and two aces. Lauren Gregory had nine kills and Rowland finished with four kills, six aces and 11 digs in the win.
North Hall will compete in the Forsyth County Tournament that starts today. Johnson visits Buford at 5 p.m. Tuesday for a tri-match with the Lady Wolves and Chestatee.