For the past three seasons, the dynamic of the Lambert volleyball team roster demanded Kendal Barrett be an outside hitter disguised as a setter. During springs and summers with her club team, she has swung away. During falls with the Lady Longhorns, she has set up the swings. And Barrett has been a good setter; earlier this season she eclipsed 2,000 assists for her career.
But the dynamic has changed for Lambert, and there are no more disguises for Barrett this season. All her talents have been necessary for the Lady Longhorns, as they were Tuesday in a rocky 25-16, 25-18 victory at North Forsyth in an Area 5-7A match.
Barrett had a game-high 13 kills for Lambert (22-8, 3-0), more than twice that of any other player, to go along with nine assists and five digs. Sarah Thierer added six kills and 10 digs for the Lady Longhorns, while Ally Hall had 17 assists and four kills.
North (21-10, 1-2) was led by Maddie Bryant (six kills, five blocks) and Bri Gilbert (six kills, two blocks).
“Kendal Barrett was on fire,” Lambert head coach Missey Hall said. “She was fantastic.”
Barrett was confined to a setter the past three seasons because she was Lambert’s only option. The Lady Longhorns frequently had a bevy of capable hitters but a dearth of setters, so Coach Hall ran a 5-1 offense, utilizing five hitters and one setter: Barrett.
Coach Hall switched offenses coming into this season thanks to an influx of talent, particularly Ally Hall, a freshman and Missey’s daughter who has provided Lambert with a second dependable setter. Kailin Taggart, another freshman, has added to the team’s stable of hitters. The Lady Longhorns now run a 6-2 offense, using both Barrett and Ally’s setting abilities but allowing them to contribute to the attack as well.
“I really wanted to be able to hit this season,” Barrett said, “because we had Ally coming in, so she could set. I just wanted to add more to the team, be able to set and hit.”
Lambert’s attack was slow to form in both sets Tuesday, but Barrett jolted it awake each time. North jumped ahead 6-3 in the first set before Barrett had three straight kills with two Lady Raiders errors to give the Lady Longhorns a 9-6 lead. North went up 8-4 in the second set, prompting Coach Hall to call a timeout, but Barrett put down the next kill and added another during a 5-0 run that gave Lambert a 10-8 lead.
“I think we’re definitely getting there,” Coach Hall said. “We’re learning to play together a little bit more. We have so many different pieces who are contributing. Running a 6-2’s been a little different. It’s been great watching them come together.”
North honored seniors Maddie Palmer, Julia White and Gilbert after a match that felt there for the taking. The Lady Raiders led early in both sets, were tied 14-14 in the second set and were within 20-18 before Lambert went on a run to close out the match – a run started, of course, by Barrett.
“We feel like our best is pretty good. We just don’t play our best consistent enough,” North co-head coach Drew Cecil said. “That’s kind of been the theme of our season, trying to consistently play at the top of our game.”