For the fourth consecutive year, the North Hall volleyball team will be moving on to state quarterfinals.
The Lady Trojans hosted Windsor Forest for a Round of 16 tilt on Tuesday evening, and needed less than an hour to dispatch the visiting Lady Knights 25-8, 25-7, 25-12. With the win, North Hall will take on Jackson County at home on Saturday.
“We played great,” Lady Trojans coach Emi Hughes said. “I thought we were focused and prepared.”
The match started out close, with North Hall taking an early 4-3 lead, but the Lady Trojans went on to win nine points in a row from there off the serve of Mackenzie Crisp, and the match was never in question from there.
Madison Brock closed out the opening set with three straight aces to put North Hall on top 1-0.
The second set was even more one sided, as the Lady Trojans won 10 of the first 11 points to put things out of reach before Windsor Forest had time to find its footing. North Hall claimed seven in a row and four in a row later in the set to close things out.
The Lady Trojans won the first seven points of the third and final set to run away with the victory without leaving any room for a possible comeback.
“To be able to come out here and protect home court and to advance is a big deal,” Hughes said. “It was a good game.”
SENIORS SET THE TONE
A large and productive senior class has been one of North Hall’s biggest strengths this season, and it showed early on against Windsor Forest.
Senior middle hitter Grace Hollifield got things started with a pair of blocks and four kills in the first 10 points won by the Lady Trojans. Fellow senior Brock finished things off with eight consecutive points won on her serve — six coming via ace.
With a couple of freshmen manning important positions for North Hall, Hughes emphasized the importance of her more experienced players taking the lead as the team moves deeper into the playoffs.
“They’ve been there, so they know what it’s going to take to get through each round and how that pressure builds,” she said. “Our freshmen don’t really understand that yet. So for them to set the tone, it takes the pressure off of the freshmen and allows them to just play the game.”
North Hall dominated pretty much every aspect of Tuesday’s match, but the discrepancy between teams was never more pronounced than in the service game.
Strong serving accounted for Lady Trojan runs of nine, eight and seven over the course of the night. The team combined to fire off 19 aces, 10 coming from Brock — whose service the Lady Knights simply couldn’t get a handle on.
Hughes said she hopes the aces will keep coming as her team continues to progress.
“We’re going to have to have them in the big games against teams that have big hitters,” she said. “We’re going to have to score points and have aggressive serving in that. That’s a strong suit for us.”
FRESHMAN STEPS UP
While the seniors took charge early in the match, the freshmen also had a chance to shine later on in the night.
First-year player Sarah Davidson — forced into outside hitting duty due to an injury to senior Dovie Williams — put away a kill late in the second set that incited chants of “She’s a freshman” from the North Hall home crowd.
Davidson late contributed another kill in the third set, bringing back the cheers from the Lady Trojans supporters.
“Sarah’s been fantastic just in the fact that we throw her in the fire and asked her to take a senior’s spot who got hurt,” Hughes said. “And so just to watch her progress and to see how well she’s playing and how comfortable she is out there, it’s been enormous for us.”