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Volleyball: Lambert cruises past West in area opener, but aspires for higher standard
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Lambert's Claire Richey, Ashley Hills and Lael White (left to right) celebrate after winning a point during the Longhorns' volleyball match against West Forsyth on Aug. 28, 2018 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

The Lambert volleyball team stomped through the non-area schedule with a 14-4 record, the best among county teams, and opened area competition on Tuesday with a comfortable win in three sets over West Forsyth, 25-13, 25-16, 25-19.

But when comparing how they got that result to what they saw in themselves over the previous weekend, the Longhorns knew that they were capable of something better.

“We had a little bit of a letdown today, which is understandable, somewhat,” Lambert head coach Missey Hall said. “They didn’t play with that energy that they had against Walton and Lassiter. So we’re working on that.”

The level Lambert is aspiring to came, strangely enough, on a day in which the Longhorns lost three of their four matches, at Saturday’s All-City Playdate at South Forsyth.

However, those losses came against some of the best competition in the entire country. Lambert lost to Blessed Trinity, currently 16-2; Lassiter, currently 12-1; and Walton, currently 13-0 and widely considered the best team in the country. In the match against the Raiders, Lambert almost handed Walton its first lost set of the year, pushing the East Cobb powerhouse to 26-24 in the third.

The peak competition Lambert saw that day raised the Longhorns’ energy level accordingly, and the team wants to maintain what they saw then for the rest of the season.

“I think it proved to the girls that they can pretty much play with anybody,” Hall said of Saturday’s tournament. “But the one takeaway I have is you can’t just play big against Walton.”

While the match over West rarely felt close and saw a particularly strong effort from the Longhorns in blocking and serve receive, there were also stretches where Lambert sagged somewhat. The Longhorns didn’t pull away in the second set until most of the way through, and Lambert got stuck on 24 for six points before ending the match in the third set.

The effort suggested definite room for improvement for Lambert in an area that looks even and competitive early on. West (9-12, 0-1 Area 5-7A) is a threat, with numerous returners and talented youngsters, and North Forsyth and South Forsyth both made it through the non-area slate with a winning record. Both Milton and Forsyth Central, the two clear also-rans last season, appear to be improved.

So while Lambert (15-4, 1-0) can take encouragement from Tuesday’s win, it also knows that there’s plenty of progress to be made.

“When you aren’t playing against as high-level a team as Walton, it’s easy to let your energy go down, because it’s not as exciting a game as Walton would be,” Longhorns junior Ally Hall said. “If we can find a way to maintain that energy and that presence the way we did against Walton, we’re going to be rocking and rolling.”

Bella Tolone led the Longhorns with nine kills, and Hall had 14 assists. Claire Richey had six blocks for Lambert.