Volleyball: Lambert cruises past Berkmar for first-round playoff win
Lambert's Claire Mathauer celebrates after a point against Berkmar in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

The Lambert volleyball team’s work against Berkmar on Wednesday in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs was overwhelming from the start.

The Patriots called their first timeout in the first set trailing 10-0 after freshman Bella Tolone had recorded her eighth ace and seventh in a row.

Six more aces were to come for the Longhorns in that set alone, and many more throughout a match that Lambert won handily in three sets, 25-5, 25-6, 25-3, to advance to the second round where they will play Mountain View, a winner over Archer, on Tuesday.

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Lambert's Ashley Hills sends a hit over the net against Berkmar in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

The core of Lambert (28-11) led the way from the likes of Madeleine Bertz (six kills), Ally Hall (five kills, five assists), Tolone (11 aces), Lael White (10 assists), Amanda Sinning (three kills), Annie Jones (four aces), Claire Richey (three kills), Priscilla Paz (four aces) and Ashley Hills (two kills).

But Lambert’s early dominance allowed head coach Missey Hall to give them ample chances to work with the less experienced of Lambert’s roster like Jenna Boone (three aces), Miranda Hardin (two digs), Carley Tootle (two kills), Haley Horton (two kills) and Claire Mathauer (four assists).

Their synergy was the most encouraging part of Wednesday’s win for Missey Hall. Boone made her first appearance after Lambert took a 15-1 lead in the first set. Hardin entered a point later and had an ace to make the lead 17-1. Among Lambert’s most boisterous moments was after a kill from Bertz in the third set that was set up by Matheur, who Hall moved up from junior varsity for the state playoffs. And it was Tootle who connected on the match-ending kill.

“The unity you could see and the cheering on of the younger girls tonight, I think it’s really going to build a lot stronger relationships, which is something we’ve been working on all season anyway,” Missey Hall said. “They cheered for the younger ones, the younger ones cheered for the older ones; it was good to see.”

Lambert had plenty of growing to do this season after graduating so many contributors from last year’s team that reached the state semifinals. That growth seemed to culminate in the Longhorns’ victory against North Forsyth in the Area 5-7A tournament championship last Thursday.

“I’m hoping that we’re starting to put the pieces together and peak at the right time,” Missey Hall said.