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High school volleyball: West Hall takes second in 8-AAA tourney
North Hall’s Tess Patton jumps up to block a spike delivered by West Hall’s LaNeisha Kearse during a Region 8-AAA semi-final game at North Hall High School Saturday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times

In the second day of the Area 8-AAA volleyball tournament, West Hall made an improbable run all the way to the finals on Saturday at North Hall before losing to No. 6-ranked Oconee County in the title game.

As a result, the Lady Spartans (26-15) have earned a No. 2 seed in the state playoffs and will play the No. 3 seed from Area 2-AAA next Saturday.

On their way to the title game, the Lady Spartans — a No. 5 seed in the area tournament — stunned No. 2 seed and host North Hall, 25-21, 25-19 to earn a spot in the title game.

North Hall beat West Hall earlier in the season, ironically by the same score the Lady Spartans won by Saturday.

“I was pretty surprised we won, mainly because we hadn’t beaten them all season,” senior outside hitter Julie Walsh said. “So the fact that we beat them on tournament day, that was pretty awesome.”

West Hall began the day falling into the loser’s bracket when Oconee County beat it the first time 25-20, 25-17.

The Lady Spartans then beat Johnson 25-19, 25-23 and Eastside 25-18, 25-21 to advance to North Hall.

No. 1 seed Oconee County ended West Hall’s run in the title game, beating them 25-2, 25-13, 25-16.

“We’ve been working hard,” Lady Spartans coach Joe Nelson said. “This did not surprise me. I just felt like we had the personnel to do this.”

With the loss to West Hall, the Lady Trojans (26-12) will enter the state playoffs as a No. 3 seed and will play the No. 2 seed from Area 2-AAA next Saturday.

North Hall beat Eastside 25-18, 25-17 on Saturday before losing to Oconee County 25-13, 25-20 and West Hall.

“All the seniors are upset because this was the last chance we had to win area,” Lady Trojans senior setter Kathryn Bell said. “But we’re ready to just get back out there and practice for state.”

North Hall coach Emi Hughes was hoping for a better showing from the Lady Trojans.

“We just came out flat and that’s disappointing,” Hughes said. “But I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. "We weren’t on our game today."
Oconee County (32-14) won its area for the sixth season in a row and went undefeated in 8-AAA this season.

“We’re obviously excited we ended up defending the No. 1 seed and winning this area tournament,” Lady Warriors coach Steffie Legall said. “We knew we were up against some good competition. I was proud of the way our players handled the pressure and I think we were the better team in this tournament.

“We deserved to win because we played well.”

West Hall was led by Nicolette Ashley’s 54 digs, Laykin Herford’s 51 assists, Tonya Bennett’s 15 kills and LaNiesha Kearse’s 14 kills.

North Hall was led by Bell’s 28 assists, four kills and five aces, Lauren Gregory’s 11 kills and 12 digs, Tess Patton’s four blocks, 10 digs and three kills, McKenna Rushton’s nine kills and two blocks and Sarah Paschal’s 30 digs.

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