The North Hall volleyball team fell on the losing side of a four-set match against Westminster during the Class AAA semifinals on Wednesday in Atlanta.
The Lady Trojans (31-15) took the first set, 25-19, but then fell in three straight (25-17, 25-22, 25-13) as the Lady Wildcats advanced to the state championship.
For North Hall, it was a first as the team reached the penultimate round for the first time in school history.
“This has been such a great run. These girls have enjoyed it and I’ve enjoyed it every step of the way,” coach Emi Hughes said. “They earned it. If you’re going to go out, you want to go out as close to the top as possible and that’s exactly what they did.”
Not only were they able to achieve program history, they did it with a squad that will graduate only one senior and has every starter returning next season.
“Like I told my teammates earlier, I’m super excited to see what God has in store for us. I know it’s going to be an exciting path for us next year,” junior Melissa DeVerter said. “We’re going to go far. We’ll hopefully make it further and do better and be stronger. I’m excited for that.”
The Lady Trojans came out with the mission of proving people wrong and they did that in the first game.
“We came out swinging with the intent of knowing that we were the underdog and we wanted to prove everyone wrong,” DeVerter said. “We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it. We wanted to show everyone what we have.
“We were pretty stoked when we won that first game. I’m not sure what happened with those last three.”
On the night, DeVerter and Lena Strickland led the squad in digs with 19 apiece. DeVerter added eight kills on 36 attempts. Strickland had 35 service receptions with just one error on the night.
Lily Paschall had 24 assists and 11 digs in the four games.
Autumn Tucker led the team with nine kills on 40 attempts. Tucker had 19 service receptions with one error. DeVerter had 20 service receptions with a pair of errors.
While North Hall came out without the win, Paschall came out with a positive outlook on the result.
“I think that we just gave it our all and sometimes your all just isn’t enough,” Paschall said. “We didn’t lose, we got beat by a better team. I know it sucks losing, but I’m just really proud of how we played.”
In the final set, Westminster opened on a 9-0 run. Hughes called a timeout after the eighth point to remind her team why they were there.
“I think it was that we needed to dig in,” Paschall recalled of the huddle. “It’s the fourth game and we’re down by nine. Not to give up or anything, but we need to have fun and remember this is a game that’s meant for fun. It’s not meant for us to yell at each other. We just need to do what we do best and play North Hall volleyball.”
Hughes said she was proud of her team’s effort and knew they were coming in against a tough team.
“Westminster is a dang good team and we knew they were going to be,” Hughes said. “I’m just proud of the effort we gave and to be at this stage, we know this is where we want to be and we’re going to make a run at it again next year.”
The coach’s outlook after the game was positive with pride in what her team has done this season, eyes toward the future and high hopes of what could or should be for the Lady Trojans.
“We feel great. We have every single starter coming back next year, we’re at the top of the board in AAA and we should stay that way,” Hughes said. “We’ve turned some heads, not only in the area, but in the state and they’ll know we’re for real now. This is not the last you’re going to see of us. We will definitely give it everything we have to be back here.”