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Volleyball: Lambert sweeps past West Forsyth, stays perfect in region
Lambert graphic 09-22-22

Lambert middle blockers M.K. Patten and Jordan White dominated at the net in crucial moments in a Region 6-7A sweep Thursday at West Forsyth.

Patten and White — who are committed to Georgia and Tulane, respectively — racked up 21 combined kills and seven total blocks to guide the Longhorns to a 25-18, 25-17, 25-23 victory.

“Really proud of the runs they were making,” Lambert head coach Missey Hall said of the duo. “We’ve been working on mixing up our runs and not being so predictable. They’re getting really good at running behind the setter more than we have in the past.

“That’s what we’ve been working on. They both understood the assignment and did really well with that. The setters did a good job feeding them, as well.”

In the opening set, Patten proved to be virtually unstoppable, producing seven kills. White made her presence felt in the second set and early stages of the third. Patten, then, took over late in the third, as the junior recorded three massive kills to overturn a late deficit.

“Their two D-I middles against our 5-foot-8 middles is a big difference,” West Forsyth head coach Jake Dickey said, referring to Patten and White. “I felt like we battled and had some chances. We just have to play a little bit cleaner. …

“Lot of positives we can take away. Some things we need to tweak.”

In the first set, Patten went on a personal 3-0 run to break a 4-all tie, and the Longhorns never trailed again.

The Wolverines, who received 20 assists and six digs from Taryn Dickey, looked set to bounce back in the second set, holding a 12-9 lead at one point.

But out of a Lambert timeout, West Forsyth missed a serve, and that started a 4-0 run for the visitors. The teams went back and forth until a service error with the score knotted at 16-apiece led to an 8-0 spurt for the Longhorns.

“We would be on like a five-point run, and then we would miss,” Dickey said of his team's struggles with serving. “It’s like we don’t even put the pressure on them.

“You have to serve aggressive in order to have a chance. It’s a balance.”

In the third set, West Forsyth (21-11, 2-2) again looked to be in position to extend the match.

Lymaris Vasquez landed one of her team-high 11 kills for a 15-9 lead.

“They did a really good job of picking apart our defense,” Hall said of the Wolverines. “We didn’t make adjustments as I would have wanted to. … But we did adjust.

“They are well coached, and they play hard.”

Lambert clawed its way back, though.

After West Forsyth's Reece Rhoads — who finished with seven kills and two aces — spiked one to the hardwood for a 19-16 edge, the visitors reeled off four straight points, including two kills by Patten.

A Piper Duckworth kill evened the score at 20-20, and one by Vasquez, who added nine digs and a pair of aces, pulled the Wolverines within 23-22.

However, the Longhorns made the critical plays down the stretch to see out their fourth region sweep in as many matches.

“They’re a really good team,” Dickey said. “Hopefully, we’ll see them again at some point, but that was a fun match.”

In addition to the strong performances from Patten and White, Kalyssa Taggart recorded 10 kills and 16 assists.

Ella Beyer and Dani Cortes posted five kills each, with the latter contributing three key ones at the end of the second set. Beyer added three blocks, while Cortes managed 10 digs.

Claire Jenkins put together a stellar all-around display, finishing with 22 assists, five digs, four aces and three blocks. Francesca Popescu chipped in with 18 digs and two aces.

The win improves Lambert to 27-7 overall and sets up a matchup against Denmark for the No. 1 seed in the league's tournament. Anticipation for the showdown between the Longhorns and Danes will be able to build with the rivals not squaring off until Oct. 6.

Hall acknowledged that her team has not been looking ahead on the schedule, choosing instead to stay focused on continual improvement.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Hall said. “Denmark is a really, really good team. We haven’t talked about Denmark; we haven’t looked at Denmark. We had this match, and then we have senior night on the Tuesday after fall break.

“We’re going to continue to work on fundamentals. That’s something that is really important to me. … They know we are working on that all the time, and I think it really shows in the crucial moments.”