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Volleyball: Lambert earns close sweep of South to open area play
Lambert's Taylor Nelson hits a ball over the net against South Forsyth on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. - photo by David Almeda

It took some time, but Lambert’s volleyball was finally all together, and at just the right time, too.

For almost the entirety of the early season, the Longhorns’ starting lineup had been very much a patchwork job: They’d trotted out 13 different lineups since their first match in August due to injuries and an illness that worked its way throughout the team.

But despite that missed time playing together, Lambert’s standard lineup looked mostly strong in their first time back as a unit during their Area 5-7A game against South, earning a hard-fought 3-0 sweep over the War Eagles, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17.

“Their energy level was great (and) they were calm on serve-receive,” Lambert head coach Missey Hall said of her squad. “South is such a scrappy team -- they're so well coached (with) lots of good hitters, so that was a good one for us.”

While Lambert (12-8 overall, 1-0 Area 5-7A) ended up getting the sweep, it was by no means an easy one. South (7-9, 0-1) took a early 4-1 lead in the first set, but throughout the period, the Longhorns worked their way back in front, taking a 13-9 lead at one point.

“The big thing for our team is that we focus on what's going on on our side of the court,” Lambert libero Miranda Hardin said. “We played our game and we didn't let South get into our heads -- we just focused on getting into theirs and doing what we know how to do.”

The opening set ultimately came down to the wire, with both teams trading misplayed balls toward the end. With the set tied 22-22, Lambert notched the last three points with the help of a key block from Jordan White to take a 1-0 lead. South, like Lambert, has a lot of youth on its team, and the growing pains that come with that showed at times on Tuesday.

“Our offense wasn't clicking, we weren’t really in good rhythm with our own swings and just created hitting errors because we forced the issue,” South head coach Steffi Legall-Riddle said. “We wanted to create that kill and didn't really use the skills that we had. The girls really wanted this one and sometimes when you want something really bad, you get in your own head a little bit.”

The last two sets weren’t any easier for Lambert, even if the identical scores of those periods weren’t as close as the first. A 7-0 run midway through the second gave Lambert a 15-9 lead, but behind kills from Avery Svehla and good blocking, South stayed in contention. Up 17-13, Lambert came out on the winning end of a long rally, one of just a few plays of that nature in which the Longhorns came away with points.

“Earlier in the season we kind of had a hard time staying within a long rally,” Hall said. “They really showed that they could stay mentally focused throughout a long rally, because there were some really long plays in this game. I'm really proud of our defense.”

And that defense led the way for Lambert. Hardin finished her night with two aces and nine digs, while middle back Clarisse Evangelista led the Longhorns with 14 digs. Ally Hall led Lambert’s attack with 17 kills, 13 assists, 8 digs and two aces.

Lambert will host North Forsyth for its second area contest on Thursday, while South will host Forsyth Central.