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Volleyball: Lambert sweeps North to remain undefeated in the region
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Lambert's Haley Horton (middle) and Carley Tootle (left) celebrate after winning a point in the Longhorns' game against North Forsyth on Sept. 18, 2018 at North Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

At the end of August, less than a month into the season, Lambert hit a serious roadbump. Ally Hall, the Longhorns’ junior outside hitter and one of the team's main leaders, tore her ACL against Alpharetta on Aug. 30, ending her season.  

But Lambert has won 11 games since, which might stem from one particular moment.

 “The resilience of this team has been absolutely amazing,” Missey Hall said. “After we found out (Ally) tore her ACL, we took a moment, we mourned it and said, 'We'll never speak of it again.’ We've just kind of moved on from that as a team."

That was certainly true in Lambert’s second region game since Hall’s injury, as the Longhorns largely dominated North Forsyth with a three-set victory, 25-10, 25-19, 25-7. The win keeps Lambert alone in first place with a 4-0 record in Area 5-7A.

“I was super proud of our girls’ energy,” Missey Hall said. “We’ve been working on maintaining energy throughout an entire match, and I think they did a good job of that tonight.”

That energy came out in full force during the first set. Capitalizing on a good amount of North passing mistakes, the Longhorns jumped out to a 10-3 lead before the Raiders called their first timeout of the match. The miscues continued, though, and after two kills from Bella Tolone, the Longorns led 22-8, and ended the set on an ace. Tolone ended her night with four aces to go with nine kills and seven digs.

“Our serving was very tough tonight,” Missey Hall said. “I was very proud of the placement of the serves and the intensity in which they served.”

North's Kate Perryman (middle) attempts to block a swing from Lambert's Bella Tolone during a volleyball game between the Raiders and Longhorns on Sept. 18, 2018 at North Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
In set two, the Longhorns ran into some passing issues of their own, which helped North jump out to a 4-0 lead. The set was much more competitive as a whole and North held the lead for half of it with the help of some Mary Ellen Enright kills, but Lambert eventually tied the set at 8-8. North took the lead back briefly but the Longhorns eventually took it for good, securing the set on a long rally that consisted of a diving dig by Ashley Hills and a kill by Claire Richey.

“We were raising our shoulders on passing (in set two) so we talked about that during the timeout,” Missey Hall said. “Technique-wise, they kept their shoulders down (in set three) and got a little bit more on point with their passing.”

Lambert was in full control for all of the third set, as North’s mistakes began to resurface. A 14-0 run from the Longhorns gave them a commanding 22-5 lead and, eventually, the win.

Lambert is counting on a few players to help fill the hole left by Hall’s injury going forward, namely Haley Horton and Ashley Hills, with the latter of stepping into Hall's outside hitter position. Both of them put together solid performances on Tuesday. Hills had seven kills, six aces and four digs, while Horton had two kills, one block and seven digs.

“We came (into today) and we knew that we would have to fight a lot,” Horton said. “I think we did. We did a lot of relationship stuff together and that really pulled us closer together on the court and hopefully off the court, too. We all made goals about energy and finishing.

“I've definitely been working harder on trying to fill (Ally's spot). I will never fill it, but I've been working hard. I've been trying to get the team to help me, too.”