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North Hall volleyball team secures back-to-back Hall County Championship titles
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Lakeview's Presley Jackson (1) returns the ball as her teammates Sadie Thrailkill (30) and Mary Brock (12) back her up during Lakeview's game against Flowery Branch Saturday in the Hall County volleyball championship at West Hall High School. - photo by Erin O. Smith

An appeal to simplicity allowed the North Hall volleyball team to earn its second straight Hall County gold bracket championship Saturday afternoon at West Hall.

After going down 1-0 early in the opening match of the day against Gainesville, coach Emi Hughes rallied her troops by telling them to not allow the Lady Red Elephants to dictate the tempo. Hughes’ team responded by pulling off the comeback, then rattling off four more wins to earn back-to-back county titles.

“It was just one of those games where I had to remind them that slow and steady wins the race,” said Hughes. “We weren’t going to win the whole game in just one set, so they got themselves back in gear and played North Hall volleyball. We wanted them to stop making silly errors and they did just that.”

The Lady Trojans (21-10, 4-1 Area 8-AAAA) topped Gainesville both in pool play and in the championship game (25-13, 25-22) behind the strong play of sophomore tandem Lily Paschall (68 assists, 10 kills, seven aces) and Autumn Tucker (31 kills, 13 aces, 13 digs).

Senior libero Makenzie Bryant accounted for 42 digs, three kills and two aces on the day, while Bly Belcher had 30 kills, 24 digs and five blocks.

“We started the day with them, and we ended the day with them,” said Hughes. “It was like a one-two punch.”

Gainesville (27-9, 4-0 in Area 8-AAAAA) picked up wins over Chestatee, Johnson and Lakeview Academy behind Sydney King, who led her teammates with 47 digs, six aces and six assists. Tanai Watson accounted for 22 kills, five aces and 25 digs, Savannah Roys had 55 assists, 37 digs and 13 aces, and Sally Callahan chipped in 13 digs, nine aces and three kills for the Lady Red Elephants.

Gainesville next plays Tuesday in a road tri-match against Clarke County and Heritage.

North Hall is hoping to gain momentum heading into the Area 8-AAAA tournament, which begins in early October. The Lady Trojans finished second behind Buford in 2014, and were able to progress to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

North Hall next plays Tuesday at Buford against the Lady Wolves and Stephens County.

“When you get good wins, especially around this area, where you have so many great teams, you’ll have a bit of a target on you,” said Hughes. “But we like playing with it, so far we’ve risen to the occasion.”

The West Hall volleyball team defeated East Hall in straight sets to become the silver bracket champions at the Hall County volleyball tournament Saturday afternoon at Johnson High.

The Lady Spartans competed in the silver bracket after finishing 1-2 in pool play, defeating East Hall but dropping matches to Flowery Branch and Lakeview Academy. West Hall topped Johnson in the semifinals of the silver bracket before beating East Hall for the second time in a day (25-20, 25-20) to earn the honor.

Mia Mckensey finished with 42 kills and 25 digs throughout the tournament, while Izzy Diaz had 15 blocks and Makayla Courson totaled 31 assists. Shelbie Conde also chipped in 10 aces and 11 kills.

The Lakeview Academy volleyball team finished third in the gold bracket.

The Lady Lions (10-17) fell to Gainesville, 2-0, but beat Flowery Branch in straight sets.
Abby Gopfert served four aces, while Mary Brock and Sadie Thrailkill combined for seven kills in the win over the Lady Falcons. Thrailkill also added six digs.

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