“These girls are a young group. They got a little taste of the Elite 8 last year and our goal is just to get back there. We want it to be a consistent thing.”
The North Hall volleyball team is one step closer to that consistency coach Emi Hughes referenced after reaching the Round of 8 with a sweep of Ridgeland High on Tuesday.
North Hall will be moving on to play Saturday against a third-round opponent still to be determined. The championship matches are scheduled for Oct. 31 in Marietta.
The Lady Trojans took the match from the Lady Panthers 25-15, 25-13, 25-19 at home.
“We’re just pumped,” Hughes said. “We want to be one of the top teams, not just in this area, but in the state. They’re busting it and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
After taking a two-set lead, North Hall looked to be in trouble as the Lady Panthers took the first two points of the third set.
A kill from sophomore hitter Autumn Tucker cut the deficit to 2-1. The Lady Trojans tied it up on an ace from Lily Paschall.
The two squads traded points until it was 4-4. Then, the home team began to separate themselves.
With Tucker serving, North Hall scored eight straight points, including four aces from the sophomore.
Ridgeland battled back from the 12-4 deficit to tie the match at 17-17, but the Lady Trojans scored six consecutive points. Two of those points were aces from Paschall.
At 24-19 after a long serve from the Lady Panthers, North Hall closed the match out with a kill from senior Bly Belcher.
The hit from Belcher, which deflected off a defender for the point, clinched a trip back to Round 3 for the Lady Trojans.
“Honestly, they were (on fire),” Hughes said. “I knew when we came out for our warm-up that we were just going to get it going and we did.”
Tucker finished the night with six kills and seven aces.
Paschall had three aces and 16 assists. The sophomore closed out the second set with the final nine serves for North Hall, including eight-straight points to build the largest lead of the night, 24-12.
“Lily, she was just clutch,” Hughes said. “That kind of gave us the momentum to pull away in the second set. She was everywhere. She did not stop. She’s our quarterback and she had to run a pretty - I hate to use the word ‘perfect’ - spot on offense tonight.”
Melissa DeVerter had three kills in the second set, including the final point. She scored two of the first three points of the set for the Lady Trojans with a kill and a block, helping North Hall build a 4-0 lead.
DeVerter totaled eight kills and five blocks on the night.
“We had great passes, good sets and I couldn’t ask for more out of Autumn Tucker and Melissa DeVerter,” Hughes said. “They played lights out. They had some big kills when we needed them and some blocks as well.”
In total, the Lady Trojans had 14 aces.
“We have a very strong serving team when we want to,” Hughes said. “They picked a great day to pull them out.”