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Volleyball: Lambert rallies past Lakeside-DeKalb in 5-set thriller
Ally Hall
Lambert senior Ally Hall spikes a ball past Lakeside-DeKalb junior Adalen Nyankori during Saturday's 3-2 win against the Vikings. - photo by David Roberts

If Ally Hall was nervous, it sure didn't show. 

Not during Lambert's 17-5 deficit in the third set Saturday, nor during any of her team-high 23 kills, and certainly not when she huddled her teammates together after Lakeside-DeKalb's 10-0 run to start the fourth set. 

Lambert already trailed 2-1, and one more lost set meant the end of the season. 

"I looked at a few players, because some of them had a rough time hitting over the net today, and our passing wasn't where we'd like it to be ... I kind of told them to keep their chins held high," Hall said. "A big thing during our warmups is, we try to line up on the back line when we're watching that other team, have our shoulders back and our chins up just to show them that we're not afraid, and we're ready to kick some butt."

Gillian Mathauer
Lambert sophomore Gillian Mathauer's shot rises just out of the reach of Lakeside-DeKalb senior Ruby Reich during Saturday's 3-2 win in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. - photo by David Roberts
Lambert (23-12) responded, winning 25 of the next 37 points, squashing Lakeside-DeKalb's momentum and forcing a decisive fifth set, which the Longhorns won 15-11. 

Lambert will host Hillgrove at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. 

Hall said after the match that she was less nervous and more jittery. The Longhorns had to wait until after Hillgrove's 3-0 sweep of Lowndes to play.

"I don't think nervous is the word; it's more jitters. I think it's, like, happy jitters," she said. "The thing that stunk playing second is, you're watching that first game first and you wish that you were out there. You want to know the outcome of your game already."

Lakeside-DeKalb came out swinging in the first set, forcing Lambert to rally from a late 19-18 deficit to win 25-20.

The Vikings took six of the first seven points in the second set, ultimately winning 25-20, then hurried out to a 17-5 lead in the third set, storming past a Lambert squad that made too many unforced errors to keep up. 

Junior Clarisse Evangelista's ace helped respond to Lakeside-DeKalb's 10-point run run to start the fourth set and sparked a Lambert rally.

Any magic Lakeside-DeKalb had ran out after Hall's kill ignited a four-point rally, then junior Sarah Black followed with a massive block and the Longhorns won nine of the final 14 points.

Sarah Black
Lambert senior Claire Mathauer, center, and junior Sarah Black try to block a Lakeside-DeKalb shot during Saturday's 3-2 win in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. - photo by David Roberts
Black had a season-high six blocks, just one week after moving from her natural right side position to middle back. 

"She's just filling a role that we needed," Lambert head coach Missy Hall said. "She's a great right-side player, she can play outside. But to expect her to move laterally and play middle when that's not something she does all the time — she's just phenomenal, and she's a great kid, too."

Black's eight kills rank among her season best, and her four digs impressed for a 6-foot-1 right-side hitter playing out of position. 

"At the beginning I was a little scared," Black said. "We had a tournament on Saturday, which was the first time I played middle, and that was a really good beginning to moving to middle, because it wasn't, like, an official game, just a tournament. But I think it's really fun being middle, because it's something new and I love being able to have more touches on the ball, especially blocking."

Taylor Nelson
Lambert sophomore Taylor Nelson gets off a shot during Saturday's 3-2 win against Lakeside-DeKalb in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. - photo by David Roberts
Ally Hall picked up four kills to leave her mark on the fifth set, while sophomore Taylor Nelson added four more and freshman Ella Beyer made her fourth block of the day, helping the Longhorns to a 15-11 win. 

"They really connect as a family," Missy Hall said, "and I told them, 'This is your story to write. You're writing the ending right now. You can either call it a day, or you can keep scratching and clawing and write a different ending. And nobody in the stands thinks it's going to happen.'"

Ally Hall finished in double digits in three different categories, adding 21 assists and 15 digs to her 23 kills.

Junior Megan Martin was second on the team with 19 assists. 

Nelson had 13 kills and a team-high 22 digs, while junior Miranda Hardin added 20 digs of her own. 

"My teammates, we just all pick each other up, and it was like we were all playing as one," Black said. "We knew we weren't playing for ourselves. We're playing for the seniors because we wanted to make sure it wasn't their last game. We just don't want this season to end."