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Volleyball: North headed to Final Four after beating Hillgrove
Brooke Crummel
North Forsyth sophomore Brook Crummel, second from right, celebrates with teammates Tuesday during the Raiders' 3-1 win over Hillgrove in the Class 7A Elite Eight. Photo by Sydney Jarrard for the Forsyth County News

For the first time in school history, the North Forsyth volleyball team will be playing in a Final Four.

The Raiders defeated Hillgrove 3-1 on Tuesday and will play Alpharetta on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Class 7A state championship.

Head coach Kelly Christensen felt her team stepped up to the big moment that was handed to them.

“I just thought our girls were super focused and super aggressive,” Christensen said. “It’s crazy, as young as they are, which I honestly need to stop saying that because at this point, they’re all experienced. There’s nobody new on the floor. They’re not scared of anybody. They’ll go up against anyone. Just really proud of them tonight.”

The match didn’t begin the way they hoped. The Raiders went down 8-1 quickly and eventually found themselves trailing 24-18. When all hope for winning the first set seemed lost, the Raiders found a spark. They scored eight straight, including the finishing kill from Brooke Crummel, to win the set 26-24.

“We just had a super slow start,” Christensen said. “You could just feel it, waiting for our girls to just kick it on. Took us a little longer than we thought. Thankfully we did. We just stay mentally tough in those moments, even when it’s tight. They did a great job battling back. It wasn’t anything we said or did. They just flipped a switch and decided to turn it on.”

North never trailed in the second set and won it 25-18. They dropped the third set 25-22 after fighting back from a 16-9 deficit. They won the fourth set 25-20, giving them the victory.

Crummel finished with a team-high 17 kills, and Maddie McCafferty added 10 more. Christensen felt their offensive consistency was the key to victory for them.

“Being aggressive offensively,” Christensen said. “That third set that we dropped, we only had three or four kills, whereas the other sets we were averaging nine or 10. I just felt like our defense was kind of off. Definitely the key to it was getting our offense going. Hillgrove did a great job of shutting down our offense in the third set, but all other sets I felt like our offense was rolling.”

While the team isn’t satisfied with just making it before, Christensen was able to put into perspective just how far the program has come since she came to North.

“When I first came to North, our feeder programs didn’t win any games,” Christensen said. “These girls grew up with that. They were all about changing the culture here at North. It just gives me goosebumps thinking about how they’re the ones that changed it. We’re going to add an extra banner up there and see if we can do some more damage this weekend.”

North’s semifinal match against Alpharetta will be Saturday at LakePoint Sports Champions Center in Emerson. The winner will face the winner of Walton/Cherokee in the state championship.