It was a rough first day of area tournament play for two area volleyball teams.
After strong starts in the opening games of each team’s match, both Lakeview Academy and East Hall were unable to withstand long runs by their opponents. Both dropped their opening matches of the Area 8-A/AA tournament played at East Hall High on Tuesday. Lakeview Academy lost to North Oconee (25-23, 25-12) and East Hall to George Walton Academy (25-16, 25-18).
In the first match of the day, the Lady Lions (18-15, 5-2 8-A/AA), after jumping out to an early lead, allowed North Oconee to string points together and claw back ahead, 23-22, on its way to a win in the first game.
The second game wasn’t quite as close.
North Oconee jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first six points and eventually jumping out to an 18-6 lead. Lakeview was able to take four consecutive points, the final coming on a long volley, but was unable to match North Oconee down the stretch.
“Several of our kids played really well in the first game,” Lakeview coach Karen Towles said. “Second game, they jumped out early on us. They’ve got some fantastic servers, and they got a quick 6-1 lead before we even got into the game.”
Towles said that a big part of the team’s problem on Tuesday was its inability to keep the ball out of the net.
“We need to eliminate some of our errors,” she said. “The ball was in the net too much. We need to keep that ball in play.”
In speaking of the difference between the first game, which Lakeview nearly won, and the second game, Towles said the difference was execution.
“I don’t think we executed as well in the second game as well as we did the first game,” she said. “Let’s leave it at that.”
Despite the problems, however, the coach said she was still happy with her team’s heart in the match.
“I was proud of our heart, and I was proud of our hustle tonight,” she said. “We just need to find a way to keep that ball in play in our next match.”
Leading the way for Lakeview Academy in the match were Mona Abraham (six digs), Jamie Nixon (five kills and three aces) and Megan McIntire (five assists).
Lakeview will face the winner of Athens Christian and Hart County in an elimination match at 6 p.m. Thursday at the East Hall Community Center.
“We need to have a good practice tomorrow,” Towles said. “We know we have to have two good matches back-to-back to stay alive. We have to stay focused. We’ve got one day to prepare.”
In the following match, East Hall (21-25, 4-3 8-A/AA) was able to jump out to an 11-7 lead before letting George Walton go on scoring runs of five and 10 points. East Hall scored just a single point between the two runs and fell behind 22-14.
The second game followed a similar script as North Oconee controlled the ball for 10 consecutive points again, erupting to a 19-10 lead and withstanding a late push by the Lady Vikings to hang on for the win.
East Hall coach Ted Deppe singled out one area as the reason for team’s problems in the match.
“It was our serve-receive that beat us,” he said. “We couldn’t pass the ball.”
Aside from that, he said he was having trouble figuring out why the girls were unable to stop some of the long runs they allowed.
“Honestly, I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said. “I don’t know. I wish I did — I could be rich — but I don’t.”
He did say that the team has to focus on how it finished rather than its difficulties throughout the match.
“That’s what I told them in the huddle at the end,” he said. “We started to turn it on there at the end, and we started playing and we started digging.
“But playing a team like George Walton, their hitters hit the ball down, you’ve got to be quick. They served well, and we didn’t pass well. That was the difference.”
East Hall was led by Kara Hix (eight assists and four digs), Emily Hoggard (five kills and five digs) and Tarryn Long (one ace, four kills and three digs).
East Hall will play in an elimination match in the loser’s bracket on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the East Hall Community against the winner of Prince Avenue and Jackson County.