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Volleyball: Lambert stays perfect in area play with 3-0 win
Ella Beyer
Lambert sophomore Ella Beyer spikes a ball past South Forsyth sophomore Allie Magers during Tuesday's 3-0 win against the War Eagles. - photo by David Roberts

Missey Hall has seen plenty of talent come through Lambert's volleyball program.

She's coached athletic hitters and towering middle blockers, but she can't seem to remember any of her teams putting those two traits together as well as this year's Longhorns. 

Lambert's unique blend of size and agility was on display Tuesday, as the Longhorns beat South Forsyth 3-0 to remain perfect in Area 6-7A play. Lambert won 25-17, 25-22, 25-22.

"We've never had this kind of height," Hall said. "We've had jumpers, we've had athleticism in the past, but we haven't had height and the athleticism altogether, which is really good."

Lambert had four players make an impact defensively on the net, with Ella Beyer (4), Molly Kate Patten (4), Bella Tolone (3) and Jordan Black (3) collecting multiple blocks. 

Tolone also led the Longhorns with 15 kills, adding 15 digs and seven assists. 

"We knew that she was going to get the ball an awful lot, so we just talked to our girls ahead of time," South head coach Steffi Legall-Riddle said of Tolone. "They knew kind of where to focus their blocks. It took us a little while to get used to tempo, and I think we ended up blocking better than I had expected, so that was good."

South led 9-5 in the second set behind spectacular play from Avery Svehla and Aliyah Thompson. Svehla picked up two kills, an ace and a block in the second set, while Thompson chipped in three kills and a block of her own. 

But Lambert rallied to take the lead, and after trading points for eight straight serves, the Longhorns called a timeout, then won two of the final three points, punctuated by Tolone's powerful kill, which gave Lambert a 2-0 lead heading into the final set.

"I think all the the credit goes to Lambert," Legall-Riddle said. "I mean, Lambert played really well. We had a little bit of a hard time adjusting to that in the first set. We didn't have get as many kills as we usually get, so we had trouble killing the ball, which means that we don't get that many points for ourselves. And ultimately, a team that's as good as Lambert won't give you too many points."

Lambert swept through area play last season in a similar fashion, reaching the Elite Eight last year with many of the same players as this year's team. Still, Hall sees a much different Lambert team this year.

"This team has a much more balanced offense," Hall said. "Our blocking is tremendous. Our blocking is not even close to what we had last season. Ella has grown immensely; it's not even her true position, because she's an outside/right side, but she takes on the role for high school and does a beautiful job. Getting MK, as green as she is, to have her grow into that position and have her taking charge is wonderful."

Lambert showcased that balance on Tuesday, too, as Taylor Nelson and Ella Beyer each had six kills, while Jordan Black, Sarah White and Molly Kate Patten each pitched in four.

Lambert, ranked No. 2 in the latest Class 7A poll, will host Denmark at 6 p.m. Thursday to finish the regular season, while South will await its opponent in next week's Area 6-7A tournament.