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Strong defensive effort powers Gainesville volleyball team to wins over North Hall, North Forsyth
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North Hall's Grace Hollifield throws her hands up during a volley Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, during the Trojans match with Gainesville High at the North Hall High gymnasium. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Gainesville volleyball team entered hostile territory Tuesday night for a rivalry match at North Hall, but neither crowd noise nor pressure were enough to throw the Lady Red Elephants off their game. Strong defense, quick starts and mistake-free play were the biggest keys in helping power Gainesville to a 25-23, 25-20 victory over the Lady Trojans on the road. 

It was the second win of the night for the Lady Red Elephants, who also beat North Forsyth in the second leg of Tuesday’s tri-match, and who move to 4-0 to start the year with the pair of victories.

“We’ve been working hard all summer, and it’s showing up right now,” Gainesville coach Randy Roys said. “They’re benefiting from the fruits of their labor.”

Gainesville jumped out to an early lead in the match, running off to a 5-2 lead to start the first set. The Lady Red Elephants extended the lead with a 6-1 run — bookended by kills from Kendal Glasper — that made the score 13-7 before North Hall started to climb back into the set. 

The Lady Trojans brought the crowd back into the match by winning a point following a long rally that featured several diving digs and ended with two Gainesville players running into each other on a miscommunication. The brief momentum helped North Hall win six of the next seven points to draw within a point of the Lady Red Elephants, but unforced mistakes and service errors consistently derailed the Lady Trojans’ chances of pulling ahead. 

“We gave too many points away,” North Hall coach Emi Hughes said. “We didn’t protect our serves like we should or like we had been doing all night. The truth of the matter is, we just didn’t play our best.”

The teams hung close in the latter part of the set, but two more Lady Trojans service errors late gave Gainesville an opportunity to close things out. Lady Red Elephants junior Ansley Turner took advantage, finishing things off with a kill to put Gainesville up a set.

The second set started off even more one sided than the first. 

This time, Gainesville worked its way up to a 7-1 lead before North Hall started to respond. Three straight kills from Lady Trojans senior Madison Brock helped to make the contest competitive once again, but the hole North Hall dug was already too deep. 

Two more kills from Brock in a 5-1 Lady Trojans run tied the game up at 15-15, but it was all Gainesville from then on. 

The Lady Red Elephants won six straight points off Kassie Coley’s service, and got a pair of late kills from Isabella Appling — including the game winner — to finish off North Hall and complete the tri-match sweep. 

“We did a good job,” Roys said. “Everybody had a part in it tonight. ... Total team effort. Couldn’t be prouder of them.”

North Hall beats North Forsyth (25-21, 25-20) 

The Lady Trojans took advantage of a couple of long scoring runs in the first match of the night to keep North Forsyth at bay throughout the contest. 

Early in the first set, North Hall senior Mackenzie Crisp lobbed a shot barely over the outstretched arms of the Lady Raiders’ blockers for a kill that set off a 7-0 North Hall run and gave the Lady Trojans an early lead.

After North Hall finished off the first set, Crisp repeated the maneuver a couple of times in the second — once at the end of a long rally that would be the first point in an 8-2 run for North Hall, and again on the last point of the match to give the Lady Trojans the victory.

Gainesville takes down North Forsyth (25-20, 18-25, 15-10)

The Lady Red Elephants lost the first four points of their match against the Lady Raiders, but won the next 11 off of Appling’s service to claim an early and insurmountable lead in the opening set. Appling included a pair of aces in the run that forced North Forsyth into taking a timeout. 

Turner added three kills late in the match — including two on back-to-back plays — and Gainesville finished off the set relatively unchallenged. 

The Lady Raiders jumped all over the Lady Red Elephants in the second set, starting things off with a 10-3 run, and adding spurts of five and three consecutive points later on to even the score at one set a piece. 

Gainesville managed to bounce back early in the third though, enjoying runs of 5-1 and 6-1 to build a lead in the decisive set. At 14-10, junior libero Karlea Grace Langford kept the point alive with a pair of tough digs, and senior Camille Calkins finished things off with a kill to give the Lady Red Elephants the win. 

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