North Hall High's volleyball team didn't skip out on a celebration following its second-round playoff win against Dalton, even though a long breather was certainly in order following the two-hour match Tuesday in Gainesville.
The Lady Trojans had the benefit of a seven-point serving run from senior Megan Cox in the fifth and final game to break a 6-all tie en route to the game and match victory 3-2 (19-25, 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 15-7). With the win, North Hall (28-13) is the first Hall County volleyball program to advance to the state quarterfinals, says North Hall coach Emi Hughes.
"This was the first time we've really had a comeback all season," Hughes said. "In the past, we'd get down and roll over, but not tonight.
"We got our focus back and had our serving and passing working well."
Trailing 2-1, Dalton forced a fifth game with an 11-3 scoring run in the fourth game, which started only after North Hall scored a point on a long volley and a seemingly endless number of hits.
With the win, North Hall advances past the second round for the first time in five consecutive trips.
"We burst the bubble with this win," Hughes said.
"We're so excited, maybe it will hit me tomorrow," North Hall senior Kathryn Bell (23 assists, three kills and two aces) said. "My dad always says play like it's your last game and tonight would have been if we didn't win."
Everything between these two teams was back and forth all night. When North Hall lost the first game, the Lady Trojans rebounded with a 10-2 scoring run in the second game to secure the equalizer. Leading 22-17 in Game 2, the back line of North Hall's defense responded with a great play on a ball and eventually scored the point after it hit through the rafters in the top of the gym.
Dalton won a point on a similar volley in Game 1 when both teams fought hard to keep the ball alive.
North Hall's Lauren Gregory had seven kills and three aces, and McKenna Rushton added 10 kills and three blocks. Mary Kate Rushton finished with five kills and a blocked shot for the Lady Trojans, and Tess Patton had six blocks and four kills.
Megan Cox finished with 25 kills, and Sarah Paschall added four kills and nine digs for North Hall.
With the win, team seedings for the round of eight will be reset. North Hall will face its quarterfinal opponent, which is still to be determined, Saturday.
The Lady Trojans opened the playoffs with a 3-0 win against Shaw last Saturday in Columbus. The Class AAA state semifinals are scheduled for Oct. 27 at Woodward Academy, and the state finals are Oct. 30 at Marietta High.