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Volleyball: New-look Longhorns push past slow start to down Denmark
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Lambert's Ally Hall (6) and her teammates celebrate after winning a point against Denmark on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 at Lambert High School. - photo by David Almeda

For almost a full season, Ally Hall had to watch her Lambert volleyball teammates from the bench.

After her ACL tear in the middle of last year, she worked to get back for her senior season, but the team she’s returned to for 2019 is quite different, with the roster filled with some younger names without varsity experience. With some key departures, she’s one of only two seniors.

But in her first few games playing high school volleyball again, including the Longhorns’ Thursday contest against Denmark, she’s begun to re-experience the still-familiar and exhilarating feeling of being on the court.

“We had energy,” she said. “Everyone was smiling, everyone was talking. After every point, everyone was bringing it together ...  It's just really fun.”

That loose attitude helped drive Lambert to a 2-0 win over the Danes, working through a rough first set before taking a dominating second set win to clinch the match. For head coach Missey Hall, it was an opportunity not just for her younger players to continue learning the ropes, but to keep discovering the best ways to utilize them.

“This is the fourth lineup we've run,” Missey Hall said. “We're still figuring things out. We're really, really young but I was happy with the way the serve-receive improved in the second set.

“We got to try some different pieces which is always good. Denmark has definitely improved -- their servicing broke down in the second set but they're (much) better than last year. They're definitely a come-up program.”

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Denmark's Olivia Woodard leaps up to strike the ball against Lambert on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 at Lambert High School. - photo by David Almeda
The first set was a rough start for the Longhorns, who only led the Danes by a few points late. Lambert pulled away, though, ultimately taking a 25-16 win after settling in. Lambert continued that momentum into their second set, beginning play with a 7-1 run. The Longhorns took advantage of almost every Denmark mistake, and played much cleaner to cruise to a 25-7 win.

“We were quiet (in the) first set, and our serve-receive was not on point,” Missey Hall said. “We were only giving one option to set in the first game. In the second set we passed so much better. Setters had three options of hitters, and all the hitters responded really well.”

Hall finished her night with 12 assists, seven kills and five aces. Taylor Nelson, a new addition, totaled six kills and nine digs, and is already making big contributions.

“She's been phenomenal,” Missey Hall said. “We've got two freshmen that are starting and are contributing great. It's wonderful -- this team is so cohesive and really tight this early in the year.”

The season is still young and Lambert still has to continue figuring itself out before the matches start to really count. Ally Hall is excited to make up for lost time and fully enjoy all if it.

“It's been very heartwarming," she said. "It's been incredible -- I've definitely missed it a lot. This team is definitely my family. I'm very blessed to have such amazing girls and teammates that support me so much.

“It's definitely been a struggle coming back a little bit -- I haven't played in nine months but one game at a time, we'll get there.”